GANGTOK: Nairobi flies, a species of rove beetles and native to East Africa, have been spotted in the Himalayan state of Sikkim.

Over 100 SMIT students have contracted infections after coming in contact with the Nairobi flies at Majhitar in Manipal, Sikkim.

The infections caused by the Nairobi flies are spreading in and around the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT) campus like wildfire.

One of the infected student, in fact, had to, reportedly, get his hand operated after being affected with the infection.

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“’These flies do not bite. But, one should not touch the fly if it lands on the body. On touching, it releases harmful acid-like substances,” a Sikkim health department official said.

The official added: “It should just be gently blown away. If it sits on hands, after blowing it, hands should be washed with soap.”

The official further said that the Nairobi flies eats pests and destroy crops.

The flies, called rode beetles, belong to the beetle family and are saffron in colour.

If squashed or squeezed, the toxic juice released is harmful.

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Nairobi flies contain a corrosive substance known as pederin, which can cause chemical burns if it comes into contact with skin.

Because of these burns, the Nairobi fly is sometimes referred to as a “dragon bug”.

The beetles neither sting nor bite, but their haemolymph contains pederin, a potent toxin that causes blistering and Paederus dermatitis.

The toxin is released when the beetle is crushed against the skin, often at night, when sleepers inadvertently brush the insect from their faces.

People are advised to gently brush or blow the insect off their skin to prevent irritation.

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