Sunday, March 5, 2017

Nairobi Eye

The rains have started in Serengeti and with the rains comes more insects, which really does not bother me - I'm the girl who puts spiders back outside if found in the house. However, this little beetle - sorry, there's no mercy for the Nairobi Eye, if it crosses my path. It's easy to miss them as they are only 1cm long. 

While the Nairobi Eye (aka Nairobi fly) does not sting or bite, if you find one near or on you - DO NOT squish it. Their body contains a very potent corrosive toxin called pederin - it is stronger than cobra venom and when it comes into contact with human skin it will cause paederus dermatitis, a skin irritation appearing as a redrash which developes into blisters. 

You likely will not notice anything right away if you have encountered one of these very small, red and black beetles. The rash typically starts to appear 12-36 hours after contact with the noxious substance contained in their body. Yes, it's painful. 

11 days ago I woke up with a few small reds spots on my chest, which I thought maybe was a heat rash. I scratched it, rubbed a bit of moisturizer on it, thinking it would go away. Well, it only got worse, it appeared to just keep spreading and spreading wherever I had put the lotion. The more I scratched the more it started to burn.  At this point I didn't clue in that maybe I had squished a Nairobi Eye down my shirt!? 

The next day, things only kept getting worse. I showed a friend and right away he said  - "oh no, Nairobi fly" and the light bulb went off, YES - the same thing I had five years ago when I first went to Kenya. 

I immediately took a shower and washed the burnt spots, which by now have spread down my stomach and side. This is common due to the "kissing or mirror-image" of paederus dermatitis. 

Day 3

What to do if you see one on you ? Blow the beetle off - do not squish it!

Nairobi Eye Burn
If it does get squished without you knowing - wash the area with soap and water as soon as you realize. Wash the clothes you had on and if you were in bed, wash all the sheets. 

Do not touch the infected area as it can spread around the body. If you scratch the area then touch another part of your body it will cause mirror-image lesions. 

Go to the doctor for quicker healing. Because my rash had spread quite a bit they gave me an injection and pills (antihistamine) and hycorum topical cream (hydrocortisone). 

Nairobi Eye blisters - spread from chest to stomach 
Day 7 - feeling much better

The rash and blisters are pretty much gone now and I'm dealing with the peeling skin. I stopped taking the medication after five days and started to use natural tea-tree oil to prevent any scaring. I have had four more of these little buggers cross my path in the last few days! One crawling on my foot, which thankfully I saw so I could BLOW IT OFF - remember to do the same if you find one on you!