Tungiasis and the guardians of the Amazon

Anita Barbosa believes she has been cursed. For the past four years, the elderly indigenous  woman from Alto Rio Negro, deep in the Brazilian Amazon, has suggered from a severe case of tungiasis, a parasitic infestation caused by penetration of the female Tunga penetrans or Tunga trimamillata flea into the skin. The parasite causes painful, itchy lesions that, if left untreated, can limit mobility and paritcipation in daily activities. In severe cases, infestation can lead to complications including deformity and bacterial infections.