Florida still fighting maggots that can eat livestock, pets alive

AP file photo

Florida officials provided updated information Monday about screwworm deaths.

New World screwworm, or Cochliomyia hominivorax, have resulted in the deaths of 132 Key deer since resurfacing this year. No deaths have been reported since Nov. 14.

The parasite once cost the U.S. livestock industry millions every year. There hadn’t been a U.S. infestation in over 30 years, until the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Sept. 30 that screwworm was killing rare, dog-sized deer found only in the Florida Keys.


The Keys’ isolation may help stop screwworm from spreading again, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in October.

Since the parasite reemerged, officials have administered 6,283 anti-parasitic doses.

In addition, the Miami Herald reported in November, anti-parasitic feeding troughs baited with sweet corn, oats and other grains had been deployed deep inside the National Key Deer Refuge.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Joanna Davis says this provides another layer of protection to the endangered herd. The agency has been releasing sterile male screwworm flies to the wild population. The female flies only mate once, so the population should begin to drop within three months.

While most fly maggots target dead animals, screwworm larvae burrow into the living flesh of deer and livestock.

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s