El niño causes dramatic outbreak of Paederus dermatitis in East Africa

Ingeborg M.C.J. Van Schayk, Ruben O. Agwanda, John I. Githure, John C. Beier, Bart G.J. Knols

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate Change and Africa
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780511535864
ISBN (Print)9780521836340
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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