Spider or Nairobi fly bite?
On Wednesday the side of my neck started to feel really sore and irritable. I plastered it with moisturiser, believing it to be sunburn. This didn’t seem to relieve it though, and I found it strange that only this patch on my neck was burnt but nowhere else was. The next morning as I was sat on the sofa in the lodge waiting to leave for school, my Ugandan ‘Mum’ Priscilla came up behind me and gave me a huge hug, which was always lovely. On this occasion though I yelped, urging her politely to be careful of my sunburn. I showed it to her – by now a large patch of my shoulder was inflamed, including the area below the collar of my t-shirt. There was no way it was burnt, it was something else.
Priscilla and Dennis confirmed at once that it was a spider bite. It looked as if someone had poured boiling water on my neck but if you looked closely, in amongst the big red blotch were two little white marks, presumably from the creature’s fangs.
I was keen to visit a witch doctor (more for fun than due to any belief it would work!) but the local staff weren’t having any of it. Instead I was given some tablets and various creams to apply. Eventually the burning subsided and as predicted, the skin peeled off. Opinion varied as to whether the bite was from a spider or actually something called a Nairobi fly…I guess I’ll never know!
I’m now almost certain this was caused by a Nairobi fly, but it wasn’t a bite. They apparently don’t bite or sting but when disturbed or crushed, they release potent toxins onto the skin causing itching, swelling and severe burning, similar to having acid poured on you – mainly because the poison is extremely acidic! A day or two later, pinhead-sized blisters emerge (the start of which was presumably what I saw when I had two little white marks). As they peel off, red raw skin is exposed.
The moral of the story is that if you see a little orange and black creature on you, blow it away instead of swatting it. If it does make contact with your skin, wash your hands and the affected area immediately with soap and water. However, if you start to feel the symptoms, I have read in a few places that toothpaste will settle it down!