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Skin-nontumor / Clinical Dermatology


Tunga penetrans

Reviewer: Mowafak Hamodat, MB.CH.B, MSc., FRCPC, Eastern Health, St. Johns, Canada (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 1 July 2011, last major update July 2011
Copyright: (c) 2002-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Sand flea that burrows into human skin and skin of mammals, causing the disease tungiasis
● Parasite is common in tropical locations (South America, Caribbean, Africa, Pakistan, west coast of India)
● Single flea bite causes local discomfort
● Multiple bites cause debilitation and secondary infections (tetanus, gas gangrene)

Clinical description

● Nodular lesion

Clinical images

Infected sores

Adult female, 5 mm, that was surgically removed

Micro description

● Skin biopsies show exoskeleton, hypodermal layer, trachea, digestive tract and developing eggs
● Striated muscle in 47%, posterior end in 43%
● Head usually absent
● The dermis contains mixed inflammatory cell infiltrate of lymphocytes, plasma cells and eosinophils

Micro images

Single flea

Various images

Additional references

Arch Pathol Lab Med 2002;126:714, eMedicine

End of Skin-nontumor / Clinical Dermatology > Infestations > Tunga penetrans

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