What is a jigger?
It is a small pin head sized flea found in sandy terrain
of warm, dry climates. It prefers deserts, beaches,
stables, stack farms, and the soils and dusts in and
around farms. It hides in the crevices and hairy cracks
found on the floors, walls of dwellings and items
like furniture. It feeds on their warm blooded hosts
including man, cats, dogs, rats, pigs, cattle and sheep.
The jigger-causing flea (left) and a child's infected toe (right)
Click here to see a video clip of jigger movement inside the body of a human, causing pain (closeup shot)
Causes of jigger infestation?
How it causes disease
The impregnated female flea feeds by burrowing into the skin of the host skin under the toe or fingernails
As the flea continues to feed on the host’s blood it enlarges and forms a round sack full of eggs with
the shape and size of a pea. The flea releases the eggs and is slowly sloughed from the host’s skin.
Natural extraction of the egg sack or removal of the jigger with dirty pin or needle leaves a tiny pit
in the skin which may develop into a sore. Heavy infestation of the results in toes filled with pus, which
may lead to infection, inflammation, ulceration, fibrosis, lymphangitis, gangrene, loss of toenail, autoamputation of the digits and death. Sharing of pins and needles also spreads HIV.
Where jiggers attack
Hands, feet, knees and other parts of the body.
Click here to see a video clip of feet disfigured by jiggers
Click here to see a video clip of jigger-infested hands and legs
Effects of jigger infestation
• High rate of school dropout and poor performance
• Unable to exercise democratic rights, e.g. voting
• Inability to walk easily due to pain in the affected
• Inability to carry out normal day to day activities like
working or playing
• Creates more poverty
• Low self esteem and trauma resulting from the
• Infections such as HIV/Aids and tetanus due to
sharing and use of unsterilized needles
• Disability as people with severe jigger infestation
may loose their limbs
• Jigger related complications may lead to death
Click here to see a video clip of a man rendered unable to walk by jiggers
Click here to see a video clip of a jigger-infested woman having difficulty in walking
Click here to see a video clip of a jigger-infested trying to remove a jigger using a pin
To completely eradicate jiggers, the victims’ homes should be thoroughly fumigated. Animals that may be
carrying the fleas should also be treated. Victims and their families should also be educated on the need to
observe hygiene.Wearing shoes should be encouraged to ensure that the flea does not find entry into ones feet. In infested
areas, people should check their feet daily for freshly burrowing jiggers which are visible as small black
spots which cause an itchy sensation.
The fleas may also be deterred by an insect repellent applied to the skin-although walking barefoot in dirt quickly removes the repellent. Locating the jiggers’ hiding place and burning or spraying the said area with
an insecticide would also help kill the jiggers.
Click here for the 6-step Jigger Prevention and Treatment Process >