WHILE the heavy rains of El Nino are decreasing, Kenyans are not only affected by floods or being homeless but also bitten by an insect called the Narrow Bee Fly known by many as the Nairobi Fly.
Maureen Wanjiru, is one of the Kenyans who have been bitten by this bug while its effects are showing all over their face. Ms Wanjiru says that she has been bitten twice by this bug, last year and this year.
“The first time, I felt like my face was getting very irritated. In my mind I thought it was just tiredness so I went to rest. When I woke up, I couldn’t open my eyes and my face was incredibly swollen,” she explains.
After visiting the clinic at the school, Ms Wanjiru returned home to receive further treatment.
“At that time, the face was swollen but it was breaking. I was given medicines to apply and swallow and I went back to school,” she said.
Like the first time, Mrs. Wanjiru did not know that the bug bit her the second time, while the signs of contact with this bug were signs in her body.
“This time they had attacked the school again in large numbers. Moreover, the symptoms of being bitten by this bug were severe compared to the first time. I felt a lot of pain in my face, I was irritated, then my face started to break out, and I got sores that were full of pus.”
Even though she visited the clinic and got pills, Ms Wanjiru is still suffering from the effects of being bitten by this bug.
How will you know this bug?
Dr. Nancy Omwenga, a dermatologist from Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital says that when it is healthy, this bug is 7 to 10 millimeters long and 0.5 to 1 millimeter wide. The Nairobi Fly has a black head, while parts of its body are red or yellow and some parts are black.
“They like to curl up when they bother or run away. They can fly but they prefer to run or move quickly,” she explains.
According to Dr. Omwenga, this bug lives in hot and humid places or during long rains. Nairobi Fly are nocturnal animals but are very attracted to light. When bitten, the patient experiences symptoms of a sudden red rash that may have blisters.
“This rash is very itchy and painful. You usually start showing up 24 to 48 hours after coming in contact with the fly. This rash then heals within a week or 10 days, falling off and leaving scars or marks on the skin,” says Dr. Omwenga.
To prevent contact with Nairobi Fly, Dr. Omwenga advises that it is better to close doors and windows or use mosquito nets. Turn off the lights especially those near the windows.
She adds, “Avoid standing near lights at night. Avoid being in the environment of many plants near buildings. Clean the house and home environment. Use nets treated with insecticides and wear long clothes when going to areas attacked by this insect (endemic areas).”
If you are traveling during Christmas and New Year in these insect-resistant areas, it is advisable to carry insect repellent cream/lotion. Likewise, Dr. Omwenga advises that if this bug bites you, you can prevent itchiness if you don’t touch it or even step on it.
“If he lands on the skin, don’t tell him there, instead, blow him or put a paper he will visit on top and then remove him.”
In addition, Dr. Omwenga explains that the area touched by Nairobi Fly should be washed with plenty of water and soap by squeezing ice to prevent irritation.
“Clothes touched by this insect should also be washed immediately. All nines and ten, seek medical advice for treatment.”
Long term effects
However, Nairobi Fly can cause long-term effects which Dr. Omwenga explains include areas of the skin that are much darker than normal (hyperpigmentation). On the other hand, the skin may have patches because melanin makes the color of the skin, eyes and hair less (hypopigmentation).
“The patient can also get scars depending on the severity of the swelling of the insect (dermatitis),” she adds.
However, Dr. Omwenga says that one can prevent the long-term effects of Nairobi Fly by visiting the hospital early so that the tumor can be treated quickly.
“When the patient gets the right treatment, his body will be able to deal with the severity of the bug.”