Screwworms are back and they are taking refuge in the Keys. It has been about 50 years since Florida has seen screwworms but they returned somehow and they are hurting not only the wildlife in the Keys, but pet owners are facing dangers as well.
It’s affecting Floridians and their pets for some time now but what are screwworms? Screwworms are fly larvae that feed on living flesh. These parasites can infect any warm-blooded animal, including humans. Screwworms can enter wounds of your body and feed on living tissue. If left untreated, screwworm infestations can be fatal. Screwworm has been eradicated in the United States , but re-introductions do occur, most commonly in animals such as dogs and the endangered species of deer known as Key Deer.
The Key’s police and veterinarians are starting to take action, trying to do whatever they can to keep the screwworms contained. They have started to set up animal health checkpoints where the pets have to be checked for any infections before leaving the Keys. If a screw infection happens, the animal or pet may be quarantined to prevent further infection and spread of the screw worm. Until daily wound care and treatments with larvicides and insecticides have successfully eliminated the screwworm larvae the will not be cleared has health and be released.
Some clinical signs that infected animals portray are foul-smelling wounds and infections anywhere in the body, affected animals may also exhibit excessive weight loss and sign of discomfort in certain areas of the animal’s body.
Screwworms are causing a real problem in the Keys and are already making an impact on the Key Deer population. The Key Deer could die out if the screwworms stay too long. This infestation can have very negative effects on all the wildlife and ecosystems in the Keys area. Right now Florida is making its best efforts stop this invasion of screwworms from continuing any longer.
Contributions by Steven Hernandez, Daniel Moure, Lazaro Gonzalez and Mikey Suarez