Nature

Flesh-Eating Screwworms Return to the United States

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One hundred deer, a dog, a cat, and a pig have all died from an infestation of a nauseating creature called a screwworm. PBS writes that currently the population of screwworms in the United States are concentrated in the Florida Keys. Officials are working hard to eradicate the flesh-eaters before it becomes an even bigger issue and spreads across the country. They’ve even declared a state of agricultural emergency for the Keys.

The screwworm fly lays eggs inside of an open wound, which then becomes infected with hatched maggots. They tear through flesh and move on to the creature’s muscle. CNN explains,”Infected animals usually separate from their herd and, if left untreated, die in seven to 14 days from toxicity or secondary infections.” It’s a painful death that could devastate the livestock population and kill pets and feral animals. Human infestation is possible but very rare.

The last outbreak in the United States was in Texas in the 1980s. In order to fight the screwworms off, the U.S. joined forces with Central America to release sterile male flies that competed with the normal male flies for mates and eventually eradicated the population. Years later, the mutated male flies are still being produced in Panama, so thankfully, some help is on its way.