December 15, 2007


When we first read about jiggers in “Where there is no doctor” we thought it was comparable to the ‘chigger’ in the United States and were never quite sure if we had ‘experienced’ them or not. Well now we’ve been introduced to the real deal and we now know for sure that we have NEVER had them. Jiggers aren’t common in Kaabong town and rural. Apparently they need a certain swampy/sandy area to live and breed. For some reason this past rainy season they came to some of the villages to the south of us. One of the villages that Jacob goes to weekly has them bad. We encouraged one girl to go to the doctor. She agreed if we would go with her. It was an awful experience. The typical ‘treatment’ is laundry detergent in the wounds, then scouring with a rock to remove any rotten flesh, then kerosene in the fresh wounds. Not that I have any better option to put forward- it just sounds (and looks and IS) horribly painful.

Jiggers typically get in toes, and in bad cases get in fingers. It is thought that if you wash yourself enough you won’t get them. But in these villages- they are around the borehole- and once carried back to the village- hundreds of eggs will drop out of each wound. So it must be hard to stop this problem. Some children lose toes from them, or lose the use of toes or fingers. Where a “house” of the larvae was a hole will remain after it has been removed.

Jacob took tally and in the one village 46 people or 20% have jiggers. Some of the people in these pictures had been crying because they thought Jacob was going to give them injections when he came to take pictures. Apparently they’re frightened of coming in for treatment (maybe the rock method- story got back to them?).

Here are some of the pictures…

And here’s the little girl Lokiru that we went to the clinic with. She doesn’t always look this way- but this wasn’t a particularly flattering photograph.

Here’s the Doctor kindly removing one jigger from Lokiru for us to see. Notice that this is her foot after the soap/rock/kerosene treatment at the clinic and some soaks at our house. (This picture is compliments of Sahar. Thanks Sahar!)
Now I’m no jigger expert- but it seems that they like getting under the nails- and begin to push the nails up as the flesh rots… The people say you can’t trim the nails once they are there because it is too painful. If you accidently ‘burst’ the egg sack inside then it spreads ten fold. Please pray for these people that find a way to eradicate this problem and work together to do so. Does anyone have any advice? We welcome any comments! It may take us a while to approve the comments but we will do it when we can!


Martha Schmidt - Nakiru said...

We saw many jiggers in our days in Africa. One time I had a jigger in my toe. I noticed it when my toe itched like crazy around the nail. Upon close examination I could see a small black dot...the head of the worm...buried under the skin. The skin must be popped and the jigger dug out. Jiggers are larvae that eat on the flesh. I wore flip flops all the time in Africa and only had one jigger! Not bad! Not sure how to treat them....I will 'google' and find out!
Martha Schmidt (Nakiru)

Anonymous said...

Clear finger nail grand parents used to do that when they had them....dunno why but after researching some....sounds like it works by covering the skin and trapping them in....they need to breath and room to grow and stuff haha worth a to.....may even work as a preventive measure

Anonymous said...

best treatment for jigger is to soak affected hand, foot, toe in hydrogen peroxide or dettol... dont remove it as bursting the things allows the eggs to move into other parts of the body

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