Epidemiology of tungiasis in Kenya
Dr Lynne Elson
University of Oxford
Tungiasis, or sand flea disease, has received little attention from researchers, granting bodies and government departments. It is caused by female fleas which burrows into the skin, mostly in the feet, where it grows 2,000-fold in seven days and causes immense pain and itching. It is known to occur mostly in children under 15 years in low-income areas in the Caribbean, South America and sub-Saharan Africa, but the number of people infected and the effect it has on communities is unknown.
I will conduct the first national survey of primary school children in Kenya to find out how many are infected. A sub-sample of infected and uninfected students will be selected to assess the impact the disease has on the quality of life and achievements at school.
My findings will provide information to encourage and guide programmes to control the disease.