A GIRL contracted a horrific infection on her feet after walking barefoot through a muddy pigsty.
The 10-year-old was diagnosed with a parasitic infection caused by sand fleas, which burrow themselves into the skin.
Her family brought her to a primary care clinic 10 days after travelling to rural Brazil where she had played in a pigpen without shoes on.
Doctors in the case, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, found multiple itchy pauples, with black dots in the middle.
They said the infection is known as Tungiasis, an inflammatory skin disease caused by a sand flea native to Central and South America.
The infection is more common in remote or poverty-hit areas, they said.
The female sand flea buries itself deep into the skin, usually in the toes, soles and heels, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It then sucks on blood and its body quickly begins to grow, which can cause itching, inflammation and pain.
The flea then lays about 100 eggs through a tiny hole in the skin, which fall to the ground and hatch.
Treatment generally consists of surgically extracting the burrowed sand fleas and applying topical antibiotic.
Without treatment, the parasite dies within about three weeks and symptoms begin to regress, which means the disease will clear up on its own, according to a report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
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However in poverty-stricken areas, people tend to get reinfected and can end up with hundreds or even thousands of sand fleas embedded in their skin, it said.
The WHO estimates that around 20 million people are at risk of the infection int he Americas.
It’s unclear exactly how the young girl in the new report was treated, however medics said the sand fleas were removed from multiple lesions.
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