Dr. Denys has been involved with two prior medical-surgical missions in Kakamega City, Kenya. During these missions medical, surgical, and dental care was provided free of charge to residents of Kakamega City at the Provincial Hospital. During the 2012 trip, Stop the Tears helped a number of people afflicted with Jiggers.
Jiggers are a small flea which enters the skin and feeds on the blood of its host. Within several days a small cicular red lesion surrounding a black dot is formed and the insect grows and produces eggs which are released to hatch and then reinfect other hosts.
Untreated Jigger infections result in local infections primarily of the feet but they may also affect other parts of the body. Severe infections impair function due to extreme pain, incapacitation, and open sores. Because many children must walk miles to school each day many are unable to attend school. The poorest people are the ones who are usually affected including children, the chronically ill, and those with HIV infections. Jiggers tend to live in areas with poor Hygine but they are highly invasive and may affect anyone. There is a crisis at present with reports by Kenya Health of millions of people infected with Jiggers.
Jigger infections are treated by removing the parasite by cutting the overlying skin to expose the insect. This is best done by a skilled provider. When untrained individuals use non-sterile instruments to remove Jiggers, other infections may result, even transmission of AIDS if instruments are reused. Infected skin is also soaked in antiseptics like peroxide or potassium permanganate.
In order to treat Jiggers, funding is needed to buy sterile instruments and antiseptics.