Sand flea (Tunga spp.) infections in humans and domestic animals: state of the art.Med Vet Entomol. 2009 Sep; 23(3):172-86.MV
Tungiasis is a parasitic disease of humans and animals caused by fleas (Siphonaptera) belonging to the genus Tunga. Two species, Tunga penetrans (L.) and Tunga trimamillata, out of 10 described to date, are known to affect man or domestic animals; the other eight are exclusive to a few species of wild mammals. Tunga penetrans and T. trimamillata originated from Latin America, although the first species is also found in sub-Saharan Africa (between 20 degrees N and 25 degrees S). Hundreds of millions of people are at risk of infection in more than 70 nations, mostly in developing countries. The second species has been reported only in Ecuador and Peru. Males and non-fertilized females of Tunga are haematophagous ectoparasites; pregnant females penetrate the skin where, following dilatation of the abdomen, they increase enormously in size (neosomy) and cause inflammatory and ulcerative processes of varying severity. The importance of Tunga infection in humans concerns its frequent localization in the foot, which sometimes causes very serious difficulty in walking, thereby reducing the subject's ability to work and necessitating medical and surgical intervention. Tungiasis in domestic animals can be responsible for economic losses resulting from flea-induced lesions and secondary infections. Because tungiasis represents a serious problem for tropical public health and because of the recent description of a new species (Tunga trimamillata), it seems appropriate to review current knowledge of the morphology, molecular taxonomy, epidemiology, pathology, treatment and control of sand fleas of the genus Tunga.