Miami News

Animal disease warning: screwworms


New World screwworms found in a stray dog in Florida

The Florida Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of New World screwworms in a stray dog from Homestead, FL. Screwworms are screw-shaped larvae or maggots of the parasitic Screwworm fly that can infest animals through an open wound and feed on the animal’s living flesh.

Miami-Dade County is working closely with Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the Florida Department of Health, animal health and wildlife officials to keep our community safe from the New World Screwworm. Right now, the infection in Miami-Dade reported by the Department of Agriculture is limited to one stray dog found in the city of Homestead. That dog has been treated and is in good health, said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.

In general, fly maggots only eat the superficially infected or dead flesh around a wound, but the screwworm maggots burrow deeper into healthy tissue. Then, they begin to feed on the normal flesh causing severe damage. If not caught and treated immediately, death can result.

If you have pets that are spending their time outside, you should check them at least once a day. If your pet already has an open wound, make sure that it's treated right away by a veterinarian. You should also keep your pet inside until the wound heals to avoid exposure. If your pet really needs to go outside, make sure that the wound is completely covered so that flies cannot get to it.

Remember that screwworms can be treated if caught in time. If the wound begin to look odd, take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Your pet will need both antibiotics and pain painkillers as screwworms are painful.

There is no over the counter medicine to treat the infection, that's why it's important to get treatment from your veterinarian immediately.

For more details, you can call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).

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