Around 100 students of an engineering college in East Sikkim have reported skin infections after coming in contact with Nairobi flies.
- Nairobi flies, also called Kenyan flies or dragon bugs, are small, beetle-like insects that belong to two species, Paederus eximius and Paederus sabaeus.
- They are orange and black in colour, and thrive in areas with high rainfall, as has been witnessed in Sikkim in the past few weeks.
- Like most insects, the beetles are attracted by bright light.
- Usually, the insects attack pests that consume crops and are beneficial for humans — but at times, they come in contact with humans directly are cause harm.
- These flies do not bite, but if disturbed while sitting on anyone’s skin, they release a potent acidic substance that causes burns.
- This substance is called pederin, and 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.
- Nairobi flies is a species of insect native to East Africa. Major outbreaks have happened in Kenya and other parts of eastern Africa.
- Outside Africa, outbreaks have happened in India, Japan, Israel, and Paraguay in the past.