Tungiasis in Tennessee

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Tungiasis, an infestation by a burrowing flea, may cause multiple, painful lesions which, if they become secondarily infected, may eventuate in death. With increasing air travel to tropical areas, American physicians should recognize the lesion of this intracutaneous parasite. The fully developed lesion resembles an abscess with a black center. An infestation diagnosed in Memphis, Tennessee, is reported in a businessman who had returned from Brazil. Treatment consists of excision of the gravid female flea and careful cleaning of the cystic cavity. Healing is usually complete without sequelae. In an early infestation, the smaller gravid female, like a splinter, can be removed with a sterile needle. Tetanus prophylaxis may be indicated, depending on the wound and its location.

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