Tropical Medicine Rounds
Tungiasis in Haiti: a case series of 383 patients
- Funding: None.
- Conflicts of interest: None
Tungiasis is endemic in poverty-stricken communities of South and Central America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. This ectoparasitosis, caused by the female sand flea Tunga penetrans, is associated with considerable longterm morbidity in severely affected patients, including toe deformation and limited mobility. In Haiti, tungiasis is poorly documented but is known to occur. This study is the first formal investigation of tungiasis in Haiti.
A total of 383 patients in four regions (Belle Fontaine, Vallue, Savanette, Cerca Carvajal) were examined and interviewed to determine disease prevalence, demographics and clinical presentation, and tungiasis-related behaviors.
Prevalences of tungiasis ranged from 10.6 to 81.8% across the four regions. The overall prevalence of tungiasis in the patients examined was 31.1%. Of the affected patients, 63% were male and 37% were female, 37% were aged 0–10 years, and 100% reported pain and pruritus. Lesions occurred on the feet in 93.3% and on the hands in 22.7% of affected patients. The most common complications observed were chronic inflammation (54.2%) and hyperkeratosis (48.2%).
This study establishes tungiasis as endemic in four regions of Haiti and reveals disease characteristics similar to those reported previously, suggesting that there are common factors underlying this disease in various regions, which are likely to be poverty-related. These findings emphasize the need to acknowledge tungiasis as a clinically relevant public health issue in order to decrease the frequency of tungiasis-related morbidity in endemic areas.