Travel Bulletin Uganda: Deadly Chiggers Outbreak2 min read
A popular destination for African missionaries and relief workers, Uganda recently reported that during the past two months, 20 have died and over 20,000 have been infected with chiggers — small sand fleas that enter the body through broken
skin, usually the feet. Chiggers multiply rapidly under the skin, rotting not only the feet, but hands, buttocks, eyelids and lips as well. A secondary infection from opportunistic bacteria is usually the cause of death in those unfortunate enough to succumb to the parasite’s attack. According to Uganda’s Minister of State for Health Care, the vast majority of cases of chiggers in Uganda have been reported in the Busoga region, 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the capital city of Kampala; however, eleven other districts have also been affected. Chiggers usually affect children, the elderly, and the chronically ill, and thrive in poor hygienic conditions.
The medical name for the parasitic disease is tungiasis. Although there is no way to immunize against chiggers, soap repels the small insects and applying petrol and paraffin kills infestations. Travelers should maintain vigilance and proper hygiene.