Cattle Farmers Warned over Screw Worm Maggot

AUSTRALIA - Biosecurity Queensland has issued an alert to cattle producers over a threat from the screw-worm maggot.
calendar icon 15 December 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Screw worm fly maggots are parasites of all domestic and wild animals, birds and people.

The fly is not present in Australia. However it is in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia and is considered the most serious exotic pest threatening Australia´s livestock industries. This status is due to the difficulty in eradication requiring extensive use of sterile male release, the wide host range and the damage to the food production of northern Australia that is possible from this pest.

There are two types of screw worm fly. The old world screw worm (Chrysomyia bezziana), is endemic in countries north of Australia. It is found in the coastal swamps of Papua New Guinea adjacent to the Torres Strait and throughout much of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The new world screw worm fly (Cochliomyia hominivorax) is predominately found in the tropical areas of the American continent. It has been eradicated from the southern states of the United States.

The disease is caused when fly larvae (maggots) burrow into living flesh of the host and feed until maturing and dropping off the host to pupate on the ground. Adult flies are free flying, preferring warm humid environments.

Biosecurity Queensland is now calling on producers to send sampled o maggots they might find on their cattle to prevent the spread of the pest.

Senior veterinarian Dr Greg Williamson told ABC while there have been no cases recorded in Queensland, the maggots or flies could potentially spread from neighbouring countries.

He warned that it could be blown across in the wind or it could be carried across in ships, particularly returning livestock vessels - vessels that have taken livestock across to Indonesia and are coming back.

"This is a particularly little vicious little blowfly - it's not like the maggots that you know," he told ABC.

"You're probably familiar with the maggots of an ordinary blowfly - they will eat dead meat basically - but the screw-worm fly maggot will actually eat live meat, so they can be quite damaging."

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