Itanagar: After wreaking havoc in the states of Sikkim, North Bengal and their adjoining areas, the Nairobi fly is slowly starting to become a matter of concern for the people of Arunachal Pradesh with the doctors of Ramakrishna Mission Hospital here encountering at least one case of paederus dermatitis in the outpatient department (OPD) every day.
Medically known as dermatitis linearis, paederus dermatitis is a skin irritation resulting from contact with the hemolymph of certain rove beetles, a group that belongs to the insect order Coleoptera and the genus Paederus.
Nairobi fly (Acid bug) is the common name for two species of rove beetle in the genus Paederus.
A native of East Africa, the beetle contains toxic hemolymph known as pederin, which can cause chemical burns if it comes in contact with skin.
The symptoms include skin inflammation, rashes and blisters in severe cases.
According to Dr Tunu Gadi, a child specialist and newborn intensive care unit in-charge of R K Mission, the physicians of the hospital are encountering at least one case of paederus dermatitis in the OPD every day.
Dr Gadi who took to social media to share the information said the insect (Nairobi fly) doesn’t bite or sting but releases an acidic fluid after coming in contact with the skin.
The acidic fluid in turn causes irritation, inflammation and blistering (usually linear) of the skin surface coming in contact with the insect.
“If you encounter the insect, do not touch or crush it. If it lands on the skin, it should be blown off or encouraged to walk onto a piece of paper and then removed. Also wash the affected area immediately with soap and water,” Dr Gadi said, asking the people to keep the doors and windows closed, especially during night and avoid sleeping on the floor.
Nairobi flies, like any other insect, are attracted to artificial lights. The preventive measures include typical anti-vector precautions, including bed nets, long-sleeve clothing and avoiding fluorescent lights.
Paederus dermatitis is also not contagious and treatments are available for the same. In severe cases, it is treated with antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines.
Over 100 students from the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT) as well as others from the neighbouring Rangpo-Singtam axis in East Sikkim had earlier this month reported infections related to Nairobi fly dermatitis.
Some districts of North Bengal, including Siliguri, and several parts of Bhutan and Nepal have also reported the infection.
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