USDA Wrapping Up Screwworm Investigation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)is concluding a foreign animal disease investigation by recognizing a Florida veterinarian for his part in preventing screwworm from becoming established in Florida, potentially causing extensive damage to the equine and livestock industries.

Dr. Paul Wollenman, an equine veterinarian from West Palm Beach, Fla., will receive a certificate of appreciation from USDA for spotting screwworms on a horse on March 2 imported from Argentina.

"By immediately reporting the situation to us, we were able to take the actions necessary to ensure that screwworms did not get a foothold in Florida," said Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a part of USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area. "For that, we are grateful."

Wollenman, a USDA accredited veterinarian, will receive the certificate in a ceremony June 8 at the Pompano Beach Service Plaza. Ulysses J. Lane, area veterinarian in charge of Florida, will make the presentation.

"We hope that all veterinarians are as vigilant as Dr. Wollenman," said Lane. "We depend on accredited veterinarians to give us a call when they see something that could be a foreign animal disease."

The horse that had screwworm was part of a shipment of 17 horses imported from Argentina on Feb. 27. The horses came through APHIS' animal quarantine center in Miami.

Wollenman found one of the horses to have screwworm larvae. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed that the larvae were screwworms on March 4. The horse and the premises were treated March 3. The horse received a second treatment March 6 and is free of screwworm.

Veterinary services conducted foreign animal disease investigations of the other horses in this shipment and found that only the one horse in Florida had been infested. The screwworm threat was declared over after intense surveillance of the area.

Screwworm is the common name of a pest native to the tropical areas of North, South, and Central America that causes extensive damage to domestic livestock and other warm-blooded animals. The larvae of these pests feed on the raw flesh of the host animal.

The U.S. livestock industry could suffer $750 million in production losses annually if this pest were reintroduced to the United States. Screwworm was eradicated from the United States in 1966.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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