Editor’s note: The following was sent from the desk of Thomas Swafford, Public Information Officer, Texas Animal Health Commission.
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) was notified by the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) of the confirmed presence of New World screwworm in Key deer from National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida, on October 3, 2016.
This is the first local infestation in the United States in more than 30 years. If this pest became established in the United States again, it could have a devastating impact on our country’s livestock industry. The USDA announcement can be found at http://www.tahc.texas.gov/news/2016-10-03_USDAScrewworm.pdf.
New World screwworms are fly larvae (maggots) that can infest livestock and other warm-blooded animals, including people. They most often enter an animal through an open wound and feed on the animal’s living flesh. Infested animals that are not treated in 7 to 14 days may die.
Producers are advised to immediately contact their TAHC Region Office or local veterinarian if they suspect an animal may be infested with screwworm larvae.