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Paederus sabaeus; Nairobi Fly; outbreak; El Niño; Paederus dermatitis; conjunctivitis; Nairobi; Kenya
An outbreak of Paederus sabaeus rove beetles in Kenya during the 1997–1998 El Niño resulted in a dramatic increase of vesicular dermatitis in its capital Nairobi. The beetle, popularly called ‘Nairobi Fly’, contains a potent toxic fluid that causes epidermolysis and acute conjunctivitis. A cross-sectional epidemiological study involving 1, 208 Nairobi residents was conducted to determine the health impact of this outbreak. The results showed that one-third of the Nairobi population were infected during this period. The majority of the respondents reported lesions on exposed body parts above the shoulders. Disfiguring, painful blisters and skin rashes in and around the facial area had a strong personal and social impact. Policy makers and public health specialists need to recognize that outbreaks of insects of medical importance resulting from global climatic events require urgent remedial action.
Modern human activities have an obvious negative impact on the environment and contribute to the irreversible alteration of the global climate. Evidence shows that successions of abnormal climatic events have a disturbing effect on the world's ecosystems (Epstein et al., 1998). Rise of temperatures and more frequent occurrence of extreme weather conditions alter the flora and affect the development of competitive insect species in certain parts of the world, causing unexpected insect explosions with consequences for human health (Dukes and Mooney, 1999).
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