Explained: What are Nairobi flies, which are causing disease in Sikkim?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are Nairobi flies, which are causing disease in Sikkim?” published in Indian Express on 6th July 2022.

What is the News?

Around 100 students of an engineering college in East Sikkim have reported skin infections after coming in contact with Nairobi flies.

What are Nairobi Flies?

Nairobi flies are also called as Kenyan flies or dragon bugs. They are small, beetle-like insects that belong to two species, Paederus eximius and Paederus sabaeus. 

They are orange and black in color and thrive in areas with high rainfall. Like most insects, they are also attracted by bright light.

How are humans affected by Nairobi Flies?

Usually, the insects attack pests that consume crops and are beneficial to humans — but at times, they come in contact with humans directly and cause harm. 

Health officials say these flies do not bite, but if disturbed while sitting on anyone’s skin, they release a potent acidic substance called pederin.

This substance can cause irritation if it comes in contact with the skin, leading to lesions or unusual marks or colouring on the skin. The skin begins to heal in a week or two, but some secondary infections can occur, especially if the victim scratches the irritated skin.

Have there been outbreaks of Nairobi Flies disease?

Major outbreaks have happened in Kenya and other parts of eastern Africa. In 1998, unusually heavy rain caused a large number of insects to come into the region. Outside Africa, outbreaks have happened in India, Japan, Israel and Paraguay in the past.

Print Friendly and PDF