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Grasshopper dealers face health risks from toxic fly attacks

Authorities in Bundibugyo District have asked government to launch investigations into a recent infestation of the toxic Nairobi Fly in the region. The Fly is allegedly behind health issues that grasshopper consumers, and trappers, have been experiencing.

Grasshopper dealers face health risks from toxic fly attacks

Muhindo Kigoma, the Local Council chairperson for Bitahura I, Nyabugesera Ward, Ntandi Town Council, told press that local government has not paid enough attention to the matter. There have been spikes in number of patients complaining of digestive and skin issues at health centres.

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"The health centre at Ntandi is full with people vomiting and complaining of diarrhea. These insects have been torturing the Nsenene harvesters but this year, it has been too much," he said.

The Bundibugyo District Health Officer, Doctor Christopher Kiyita said that at first he wasn't convinced there was a problem. This was attributed to the possibility that victims were not reporting the issues. Also on the likelihood of health workers recording the conditions under skin disorders category.

Notably, one resident, 49-year-old Bwambale Sibaminya, a peasant farmer in Nyabugesera cell, Ntandi Town Council developed severe skin irritation and burns from a bite from the Nairobi Fly.

He was left with bruises, patches, and forced to abandon his venture in grasshopper trapping in the Rwenzori region, to get medical attention.

"I also wanted to harvest grasshoppers to make some extra income but I got affected by insect bites," Bwambale said.

Kiyita later said that after cross-checking in health records, he was able to confirm that there was health concerns from the insect attack.

"I will be able to confirm what you are telling me when I look at the disease surveillance reports for the month of November," Kiyita added.

Smith Tibamwenda, the Secretary Social Services at Bundibugyo Local Government expressed concern over the attacks saying that residents have always trapped grasshoppers. told The Independent that the Nairobi fly is a big challenge for the Nsenene trappers in the district.

"It’s not the first time that people are harvesting grasshoppers in this district. All my life I have grown up catching grasshoppers and I had never experienced what people are experiencing now. There must be a certain insect that comes with the grasshoppers. There is need for targeted research to get to the bottom of the issue. It’s not good to take it for granted. For instance, what type of insect is it? And why is it common nowadays than before?" he said.

According to research from the department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, the Nairobi Fly poses great health risk due to the corrosive substance 'pederin'. Once injected into the body, it causes red skin and a burning sensation, after which significant damage occurs: painful irritation and itching, extensive boils and blistering of the skin after four days.

In extreme cases, it causes fever, vomiting, severe burning sensation and joint stiffness. Skin damage includes: dryness, blistered, cracked, itchy for up to 10 days.

Precautions includes immediate washing of affected area with soap and water, since the toxins enter the skin at a slow rate. Blowing the insect away instead of swatting it. Wearing long sleeved and long-legged clothing.

Treatment includes: cold compresser, antihistamines, aloe-vera.

Recovery takes about 10 to 12 days.

Dr. Kiyita mentioned that public health surveillance teams will be looking into the matter.

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