If Africa is called the most biodiversity part of the world, then perhaps it will not be wrong. From poisonous snakes to primitive tribes who consider nature as their god, there are more than one astonishing sight to be found here. Not only this, Africa is home to the world’s most dangerous fly. It is such a dangerous fly that it is called ‘Murderer’. This is Tsetse which is also called Setsi and Tetsi. It is so poisonous that it can prove to be dangerous even for humans.
…then death happens
In a conversation with Navbharat Times Online, a geophysicist by profession, Ratnesh Pandey, has told that this fly causes a type of sleep disorder called African sleep sickness. When it bites someone, it injects a parasite called Trypanosoma into the body. It is so dangerous that if it is not treated on time, it can lead to death. A total of 21 species of setsi fly are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa.
drinks human blood
The settsi fly is commonly found in central Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari Desert. It survives by drinking the blood of humans and animals. There is an outbreak of the Setsi fly in about 37 countries in Africa. African sleeping sickness is considered to be a very fatal disease in Africa that is associated with the nervous system and is marked by symptoms of meningoencephalitis. Symptoms include changes in behavior such as trouble sleeping. The setsi fly is responsible for many deaths in Africa each year.
In the first stage of African sleeping sickness, there is fever, headache, itching and joint pain. It starts within one to three weeks after the bite of the setsi fly. In a few weeks or months the second phase begins. In this, the patient feels confusion, poor coordination, numbness of the body and difficulty in sleeping. The disease occurs regularly in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, about 9,000 people died due to the disease, compared to 34,000 in 1990. According to an estimate, about 30,000 people are currently infected with this disease in Africa.
If this disease is recognized early, then its treatment is possible and the patient’s life can be saved. If there is a delay in detecting the disease, then it proves to be dangerous and life-threatening for the patient. Ratnesh explains that to avoid Setsi, researchers working on the field in Africa use a special suit.
can make a hole in the skin
Its trunk is so strong that it can pierce the skin of an antelope, buffalo and elephant. Setsi fly is 8 to 15 mm in length and its color is reddish-brown. The veins on its wings, shaped like an ax, make it different from other flies. In a calm state, it folds its wings so that they completely overlap each other. In addition, the protruding proboscis on the front part of the setsi’s head can be distinguished from the prosocis. The setsi female fly mates with the male only once in her lifetime and gives birth to only 10 fully developed larvae. Its life is 1 to 2.5 years.
10 years of ongoing research
Expert researchers from the Tanzanian government and United Nations agencies have been working together for the past 10 years to eliminate the setsi fly in Zanzibar. For this, scientists have caught millions of setsi flies and separated males and females from them. With the help of radiation, the ability of reproduction in male setsi flies is destroyed. This technique is being focused to control the setsi fly across Africa.
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Photo: DFID Animal Health Program