Nicaragua reports screwworm outbreak in cattle

The source of the outbreak was the illegal movement of animals
calendar icon 10 May 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Nicaragua notified the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) of its first confirmed detection of New World screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) since June 1996 on April 29, 2024, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

The WOAH report noted one confirmed detection on March 12, and 68 susceptible animals (or unconfirmed detections). The WOAH report also noted the source of the outbreak as “illegal movement of animals.” [Note: Costa Rica – Nicaragua’s neighbor to the south – declared screwworm a national health emergency on February 7, 2024. See GAIN Report CS2024-0003 for more information.]

Nicaragua has approximately 6 million head of cattle, generating nearly $1 billion of beef, dairy, and live animal exports annually. In addition to increased mortality, screwworm can significantly reduce on- farm revenues from remaining cattle, affecting rural livelihoods more broadly. 

Effective treatment of cattle affected by screwworm requires use of larvicidal compounds that result in dairy cattle being withdrawn from milk supply chains. Most cattle in Nicaragua are ‘dual purpose’ animals, relied upon primarily for milk as a stable source of income.

On April 3, the Nicaraguan legislature published Executive Decree 030-2024, declaring the screwworm outbreak a national health emergency. Under the decree, the national animal health authority, the Institute for Agricultural Protection and Health (IPSA), established a National Campaign for the prevention, control, eradication of screwworm along with stringent reporting requirements and the authority for on-farm inspections and animal movement control points. 

As of April 4, IPSA had established nine animal movement control points along key transportation arteries in the southern half of the country (see map below).

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