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Imported tungiasis: a report of 19 cases and review of the literature.

Tungiasis is an infestation caused by penetration in the skin of the gravid female of the flea Tunga penetrans. In the period 1991-2006, 19 patients with imported tungiasis were observed at our Institute. All patients were subjected to general and dermatological examination, laboratory tests (including bacteriological examinations) and surgical excision of the lesions with histopathological examination. In all patients tetanus prophylaxis was made. All patients were followed up for at least six weeks. Thirteen patients were males (68.4%) and 6 females (31.6%). The age ranged from 3 to 71 years (average age: 37.8 years). Eleven patients (57.9%) contracted the infestation in Central and South America and 8 (42.1%) in Africa. In 17 patients (89.5%) tungiasis was localized to the feet, in one to the hands and in one to a thigh. In 13 patients (68.4%) the infestation was characterized by a single lesion; in the other 6 patients (31.6%) the lesions were two. In 15 patients (78.9%) tungiasis was characterized by a papular or nodular lesion. Crusted (2 patients), pustular (2 patients) and bullous (1 patient) lesions were also observed; furthermore, one patient presented with a plantar wart-like lesion. In only one patient bacteriological examinations showed the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. All patients healed without complications.

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