USDA Confirms Screwworm in Florida

USDA Confirms Screwworm in Florida

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the presence of New World screwworm in Key deer from the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key, Fla. USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirms this is a local infestation of New World screwworm.

Additional deer from the same refuge and a few pets in the local area exhibited potentially similar infestations in the past two months, though no larvae were collected and tested in those cases. There have been no human or livestock cases.

Animal health and wildlife officials at the state and federal levels are working jointly to address these findings. Response efforts will include fly trapping to determine the extent of the infestation, release of sterile flies to prevent reproduction and disease surveillance to look for additional cases in animals. The initial goal will be to keep the infestation from spreading to new areas while eradicating the New World screwworm flies from the affected Keys.

Residents who have warm-blooded animals (pets, livestock, etc.) should watch their animals carefully and report any potential cases to 800-435-7352; non-Florida residents should call 850-410-3800. Visitors to the area should ensure any pets that are with them are also checked, in order to prevent the spread of this infestation. 

The spread of the New World screwworm would be devastating to the U.S. sheep industry, as well as to all other livestock and humans.

An APHIS fact sheet on the New World screwworm is available at Aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2014/fs_new_world_screwworm.pdf. Also, during the 2013 ASI Annual Convention, William Edmiston, DVM, offered a presentation on Screwworm Myiasis, available at Sheepusa.org/ResearchEducation_Presentations_2013Convention.

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