• Jeff Harvey

'Jigger' fleas, a modern-day leprosy

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Luke 21:11

Pestilence means a deadly and overwhelming disease that affects an entire community.

Our friends Pastor Martin & Patricia Indakwa in Mumias, Kenya, Africa (read our story about them in the PROJECTS section) have been helping their community and surrounding villages by staging medical camps for all ages to provide treatments for Jiggers, Scabies, Malaria and Typhoid. Millions are affected by these epidemics in Kenya and throughout Africa. 

These extremely unpleasant and painful skin infestations are pervasive due to crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent, as well as poor hygienic habits resulting from inadequate bathroom facilities and the unavailability of potable and otherwise clean water. And where there is no clean water available, water must be drawn from a local source that is often polluted, infested by mosquitoes, and must be boiled prior to use.

Bridges of Compassion is assisting the Indakwas to raise funds for a 2020 medical camp they are planning to take into remote areas when funds allow. As most inhabitants of these areas have no or very little access to any medical treatment whatsoever, hundreds of people come to these camps which are first-come, first -served due to the great limitation of medications and supplies.

The Indakwas hope to treat 300 children and adults during the 2020 camp. Along with a team of 5 medical aides and volunteers from their Victory of Grace congregation in Mumias, Pastor Martin and Patricia plan to stage camps in two different remote villages and serve all whom they can until they run out of supplies. In addition to personal treatments, patients are given EDUCATION on how to improve hygiene habits and maintain home cleanliness and prevention from possible re-infestation.

We would like to help Pastor Martin raise $6,500 to fund the 2020 medical camp. As we have done for the past two years, 100% of donated funds will be wired directly to Pastor Martin via Western Union. A full accounting will be available on this website.

Villagers near Mumias, Kenya await treatment at a recent medical camp organized by Pastor Martin & Patricia

(Scroll through the photos of recent camps organized by Pastor Martin & Patricia. We have received numerous photos and videos from them, but many are too graphic to publish here. To see more, simply search the name of the infestation online and you’ll find a lot.)

The tragedy of 'jigger' fleas, a modern-day leprosy

In Kenya, an estimated 1.5 million people suffer from jigger infestation.

Jiggers, or chigoe fleas, are sand fleas that burrow into the skin, attach to blood vessels and lay eggs. They typically enter through the feet. Jiggers also burrow into the skin of animals like dogs, cats, pigs, cattle and sheep, so people living in rural areas are likely to catch them. But they are also found in the dust and on dirt floors of many homes and schools.

They cause swelling, itching and infection which can lead to amputation and even death in the worst cases.

A jigger is nearly invisible when it enters the skin but can swell to over 1000 times the size within days as it continuously lays eggs. The eggs hatch, mature, and lead to an infestation.

The results of jigger infestation are pain, itching, and infection. Children stop walking and playing, adults can’t care for their families, and the elderly become captive in their homes.

Treatment requires literally cutting the jiggers out with a scalpel or razor blade. It is a painful process, and often all the jiggers cannot be removed in one sitting. Worst of all, due to widespread cultural beliefs, people infested with jiggers are often shunned for the “curse” painfully visible upon their body. It is considered a modern-day leprosy.

Thorough fumigation of homes, schools and animals is required to completely eradicate the bug.

What is Scabies?

Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite is typically spread by direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.

Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies treatment involves elimination of the infestation by medicated creams and lotions to control the infection. The patient's entire family must be treated, as well as living spaces, to avoid reinfection.

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