Sand flies are tiny, blood-sucking flies which sting exposed skin, especially of the face, arms and legs. Since the female begins to hunt for prey at sunset, most bites occur at night. In most cases the bites are slight, itch for several hours and gradually disappear.
The bite of the sand fly is only dangerous in the region of the Dead Sea, Israel. There the flies bear a parasite called Leishmania, which causes an ulcerous disease generically called Leishmaniasis. If the parasite is transmitted to humans, after several weeks a purulent ulcer can develop which remains for months and eventually leaves a scar. Since a sand fly cannot fly higher than 20 centimeters (8 inches) from the ground, anyone sleeping in the region of the Dead Sea should sleep on a bed or on a raised platform. Trousers and long sleeved shirts should be worn at night and an insect repellent should be used.
The treatment for the bites of regular sand flies is the same as for mosquito bites. If a purulent lesion develops, a dermatologist should be consulted immediately to prevent the development of Leishmaniasis. Early treatment of the disease, either by injections or the use of creams and ointments especially formulated to combat Leishmaniasis, can prevent the formation of scars after the lesions have healed.Share on Facebook