Geographic beast: how is the transmission and what is the treatment?

The skin is an organ formed by several layers that, together, cover the entire human body. Like other parts of the body, it can be affected by diseases, such as mycoses, for example.

In such cases, manifestations such as itching are typical and common symptoms of these problems.

However, if the pruritus is accompanied by redness, blisters and lesions, it can be a sign of infection by the geographic bug, a parasite on the skin.

What is a geographic bug?

The geographic bug, also called cutaneous Larva migrans , is a dermatitis caused by larvae of parasites that inhabit the intestines of dogs and cats.

When in contact with humans, these larvae pierce the skin and roam the subcutaneous layers, feeding on these tissues.

When they move around inside the skin, they leave visible red marks wherever they go, forming an image similar to a map and, for this reason, they receive the name of geographic animal.

In general, the most common types of parasites are Ancylostoma braziliense and Ancylostoma caninum, and cause symptoms such as intense itching, swelling and blisters on the spot.

Before entering the human body, parasites in adult form infect animals such as dogs or cats through contaminated water and food, and develop in their intestines. Then they release eggs, which come out in the animals’ feces.

If the feces are left on humid and hot soils, which are ideal for the hatching and development of the larvae (such as sand from the beach or land), and there is contact between them and the human skin, contamination can occur.

In people with skin injuries, the infection is even more prone, since the larvae can take advantage of injuries to enter the human body more easily.

Is it contagious? How does transmission occur?

No . The geographical bug is not passed from one person to another and, therefore, is not a contagious disease.

Transmission occurs through direct contact of the person with sites infected by parasitic larvae.

In general, the complete cycle of the geographic animal is composed of 2 stages: the first cycle, which occurs in animals, and the second cycle, which occurs in humans. Specifically, they are:

First Cicle

The first cycle of the geographic animal occurs when there is infection of dogs and cats. Through their own skin or contaminated food and water, the animals come into contact with the parasite in its adult form, which starts to be allocated in their intestines.

These parasites produce eggs, which at some point are eliminated in the animal’s feces. After a while, these eggs hatch and new larvae appear.

As it is common for pets to fulfill their needs in places that are often inappropriate and have common access, such as beach sand and a children’s playground, these places can become infected.

When people touch or come into contact with these contaminated surfaces or soils, there is a possibility that the parasite will penetrate the human’s skin, which will later cause the well-known geographic bug.

Second cycle

The second life cycle of the geographic animal is within the human body. After a person comes into contact with contaminated sites, the larvae pierce their skin and usually take 3 to 7 days before they start to move and trigger the first symptoms.

As soon as movements begin under the skin, they cause red trails through the skin and intense itching.

In general, they survive between 4 to 8 weeks in the body and are spontaneously eliminated after that time.

What can the geographic bug cause?

In general, the geographic animal is not of great risk for those who become infected. Because it only penetrates superficially, there are generally no major developments in the problem.

Larvae are unable to complete their reproductive cycle and reach the intestines of humans, which can only be done in animal hosts. That way, they roam the person’s skin until they no longer survive.

In this case, there are only discomfort such as intense itching, swelling, blistering and red lesions where the larva passes.

However, in some cases, there is a possibility of secondary infections in the body, with the contamination of bacteria in the lesions caused by the larva.

With the infection, there is a chance that infectious cellulite will appear – when the bacteria enter the skin and cause symptoms such as pain, swelling and intense redness in the area.

Symptoms: how do I know if I have a geographic bug?

The symptoms of the geographic bug are, in general, quite characteristic. During the first days of the infection, it is common for a red spot to appear in the affected region.

Places such as the feet and legs are the most common areas where the problem occurs, as they are more easily in contact with the ground. However, the back, arms, thighs and glutes can also be affected by the parasite.

After redness, the symptoms that may manifest are:

  • Intense itching;
  • Swelling in the region;
  • Red lines across the skin;
  • Sensation of movement in the subcutaneous tissues;
  • Bubbles appear.

Itching is common to intensify during the night, when the larvae tend to move more intensely.

It is also worth mentioning that, although there is the possibility of spontaneous cure, it is important to consult a doctor, who will indicate the best way to treat the problem.

This, because there is no pattern of disappearance of the disease, which can last only a few days or even months. There is also the chance of secondary infections, which must be treated correctly by a professional.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of the geographic bug is clinical and based on the visible signs and symptoms reported by the patient. Your history is also taken into account to confirm whether there has been contact with places with a possible outbreak of the disease.

In some cases, mechanisms such as dermatoscopy and ultrasound can be used.

Dermoscopy is an examination done with the aid of an instrument called a dermatoscope, which acts as a magnifying glass and improves the visualization of the skin layers, allowing for a deeper inspection.

Ultrasonography, on the other hand, consists of an examination that makes it possible to visualize the interior of the organism and, in this case, aims to see the internal structures of the skin. With this, it is possible to verify the presence of larvae and their fragments.

Geographic animal in pregnancy: what are the dangers?

In general, there is no greater risk or predisposition of the disease for pregnant women. However, it is very important to inform the doctor if any symptoms of the problem occur.

This is because it is necessary to use medications to fight infection, which can, in some cases, pose risks to pregnancy.

Can the bubble of the geographic bug burst?

It is not indicated to burst the bubbles formed on the skin by the geographic bug. This is because there is a risk of secondary infections, with the proliferation of bacteria in the area, as soon as the bubble is burst, the skin will be even more exposed to these microorganisms.

Another point is that, when touching the blister, it will probably further damage the skin that is already sensitized, which can cause injuries and lasting scars.

How to treat geographic beast?

The treatment of the geographic bug is usually done with antiparasitic drugs in the form of ointments or tablets.

In general, this type of medication works by inhibiting the energy of the larvae and eggs, causing their weakening and elimination. Symptoms, such as itching, can also be minimized with the use of the drug.

In cases where infection of the lesions occurs, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs may also be indicated. After 3 to 4 days of treatment, the patient usually perceives the first signs of improvement.

Is there home treatment?

The ideal and safe treatment for the geographic bug is to use specific medications for the elimination of parasites. However, there is an alternative therapy that can help fight the problem.

It is believed that the contact of the larvae with low temperatures can help in their elimination, since their ideal living condition is in tropical climates.

In this way, applying ice packs to the affected area a few times a day can help fight larvae.

What are the remedies for geographic animals?

To eliminate the geographic bug, the remedies consist of antiparasitic and anthelmintic drugs, which work to fight parasites.

There are 2 drugs most suitable for treatment: Tiabendazole and Albendazole . Both medications work to eliminate different parasites and, among them, cutaneous Larva migrans.

Tiabendazole is recommended in the form of an ointment, to be applied directly under the skin. Albendazole, on the other hand, is generally prescribed in more advanced cases, being used in oral form as tablets.

How to prevent?

The geographic bug is a problem transmitted through direct contact with contaminated sites. Therefore, to avoid infection by the parasite’s larvae, there are some precautions that can be taken.

Simple actions such as walking only in flip-flops in places where the level of hygiene is unknown, using a sarong or a mat when lying on the beach sand and collecting animal feces can effectively prevent the problem.

Specifically, some precautions that can be taken to take care of yourself and others are:

Do not take dogs and cats to the beach

It is normal for a pet to be part of the family and its guardians want to take it to the beach. However, the presence of dogs and cats in the sand can be a problem, as there is a risk of contamination.

There is no way to control when the pet will need to evacuate, for example. If this occurs in places with suitable soil for the development of the eggs of the geographic animal, such as sand, and the animal is infected, there are risks of humans being contaminated later.

Collect animal feces

Both on the beach and elsewhere, if the pet evacuates, it is of utmost importance that your guardian or guardian collects the feces right away.

If the animal is infected, removing feces from the soil prevents the eggs of the geographic bug from developing, preventing the proliferation of larvae in the area.

When lying on the sand, use yoke or mat

When visiting the beach, many people tend to lie on the sand to tan, for example.

There is no problem with that, however, it is important that a yoke or mat is used, so that there is no direct contact of the skin with the sand.

This, because there may be geographic larvae in the place, so that, if the person lies on top, it will cause an infection.

Avoid walking barefoot in the sand

Foot care is of great importance in preventing the geographic bug, as this is usually the place on the body where it is easier for the larvae to penetrate the skin.

Therefore, in open places and there is no way to be sure about hygiene, such as on beaches, it is worth paying attention. Wearing flip flops instead of walking barefoot can be enough to prevent contamination.

However, if you happen to walk barefoot, it is important to wash your feet carefully immediately afterwards, to avoid possible contamination.


It is common for people to go to the beach during the summer. However, it is important to be careful about possible problems that may occur when visiting the site.

Infections like the geographic bug are usually acquired on the seashore and can cause great discomfort.

Attitudes like walking with shoes and not lying directly on the sand can be of great help in preventing the problem.

Want to know more about skin problems and general health ? The Healthy Minute has other complete content for you! Read more and stay informed.

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