Yesterday I had a new cultural experience here in Brazil. After living here for 6 years, I had my first run in with something called " bicho-de-pé" or translated into English "foot bug."
Earlier this week, I noticed Jessie had an "owie" on the tip of her middle finger. She is a curious little baby and loves to crawl and explore, so I thought she acquired it from romping around on the ground. So, after examining the boo boo, which looked to me like a blister with a little bit of dirt in it, I thought, "Oh this should get better in the next few days... I will just keep my eye on it." Well, after a few days, the little hurt spot did not seem to be getting better, it actually seemed to be getting worse.
Long story short, yesterday we realized Jessie had something called bicho-de-pé. Basically, a bug decided to take residence in Jessie's fingertip. I was shocked and grossed out! A bug hosting on and living in my sweet baby's finger. We rushed her to the nearby public health post, where we were told that it is quite common for crawling babies to get these in their fingertips.
We were then referred to an urgent care facility. After about an hour wait, a doctor removed the bug. Jessie cried a lot, but did great overall. Jessie is now bug free! The doctor even showed Felipe the bug's eggs that were imbedded inside the tip of Jessie's finger. YUCK!
So what is a bicho-de-pé?
I had to do research about it myself, because even when people tried to explain it to me I did not fully understand.
First of all, it is a insect found in tropical locations. This bug does not exist in the USA, so that is why I had never seen it before. It is a type of flea that imbeds itself in the skin of animals, and sometimes humans (usually on the sole of a foot), as it waits to hatch it's eggs. The bug feeds off it's host while it's belly, full of eggs, grows and develops. After 2 weeks the eggs hatch and crawl out of a small hole, falling to the ground, while the mommy bug dies, still imbedded in the host animal/person's skin. If you want to read more about this bug yourself you can click here.
Jessie is doing great and has to wear a bandage on her finger until it heals completely, and thankfully she will not get sick or anything because of having the bug in her finger. No long term effects... Whew!
Jessie is constantly sucking on her finger now, working hard to take off her band-aide!
Now, I feel reluctant to let Jessie crawl on the ground in our little outside porch area (even though she loves to crawl there). We think this is where she was exposed to the bug. Everyone is assuring me this is very very common here in Brazil, especially in even warmer regions of the country.
I must say, it seems I am constantly experiencing new things here in Brazil, even after living here for several years already. What an adventure life is here and I love it, but I am praying we have no more bicho-de-pé experiences. :-)