“Jiggers can easily kill young children by sucking their blood and can cause early deaths in grown-ups who have other diseases. Most of those infected, especially the elderly and children, cannot walk.”

James Kakooza, Uganda’s Minister of State for Primary Health Care 

In the year 2017, we had a terrible jiggers outbreak among the Batwa of Kasovu community. The community, which is largely stricken by extreme poverty in Uganda, was visited by the USA team in July. When we went to visit this community with food and medical support, we found that this community had an outbreak of jiggers and flies. The president of Hope Ministries Uganda USA, Sonya Schweighardt, tried to contact different local and international NGOs to respond to the jiggers outbreak. She thought she found an organization to help, but unfortunately, it did not work out and it was a huge disappointment to the Batwa who were waiting for this team to help end their pain and suffering. But we praise God because He works in mysterious ways that we never truly understand. Because of you, our donors and partners, Hope Ministries Uganda USA was able to raise the needed funds to purchase medical supplies and to hire a medical team to go to this community and help out with removing, spraying, and treating these precious children and Batwa people. It was really shocking and painful to see a five-year-old child being operated on under the foot and removing more than 200 jiggers. All the feet were rotten and smelling. Some of these people couldn’t walk, but after the jiggers were removed and their feet were treated and had time to heal, they were walking again.

After the jiggers were removed we also worked on spraying their huts with insect killers to make sure that their huts were free from flies and other insects. We thank God because before the spraying was done, the Batwa told us that they were no longer sleeping in the huts because the flies were biting them and they were getting sick and the children were getting rashes because of the flies and other insects. However, after we sprayed the huts and the whole community, these people were so happy and started sleeping in their huts again. Praise the Lord for you who raised up and gave towards this life-changing ministry. Because you did this, the children can stand on their feet now.

The team also checked for different sicknesses and diseases including malaria, typhoid, HIV, and AIDS among others, and gave treatment to those who were found sick. The entire community was issued closed-toe shoes to help protect their feet. We praise God that no one was found with the HIV virus.

What are Jiggers?

  • Jiggers are small chigoe fleas that live in the dust, and are found on the dirt floors in schools and the homes of many families in Uganda and other similar climates.

  • These parasitic insects cling to livestock and transfer jiggers into homes primarily in rural areas.

  • The female jiggers burrow into the surface of skin that has been exposed to the flea.

  • Once embedded in the body, the jigger lays eggs and creates up to pea-size egg sacks and continues to multiply by laying more eggs.

  • These wounds are painful, and cause difficulties for victims in daily activities such as walking, playing, and attending school.

  • The infection can lead to severe inflammation, ulceration and fibrosis.

  • It can also cause lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis, and the loss of toenails, amputation of the digits, and death may also occur.

  • There is also a social stigma and shame associated with the victims of jiggers which causes them to hide the problem which makes it worse.

  • While jiggers in small numbers are not deadly, the secondary infections (gangrene, tetanus and other diseases) caused by jiggers can be fatal.

Source: Sole Hope