Screwworm Case Confirmed In Texas

The flesh-eating screwworm, a pest which had been officially eradicated from the United States and Mexico, has surfaced in West Texas. Still uncertain when or where this pest entered the country, state and federal livestock officials are urging veterinarians, horseowners, ranchers, and hunters to check animals for maggots that may have burrowed into sores or wounds.

According to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), one of nine suspicious maggots submitted to the national Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, was confirmed to be a screwworm larvae. Anyone handling livestock or wildlife should check animals and pets closely and call THAC immediately if there are any maggots or larvae in wounds.

“If we find another screwworm larvae in the state, the USDA's Emergency Services will make sterile screwworm fly drops over the affected areas,” said Dr. Terry Beals, TAHC executive director and state veterinarian. Sterile screwworms would mate but produce no offspring, thus eradicating the pest, which is the procedure that has been used since the mid-1970s to rid the United States and Mexico of the pests.

Animals infested with the larvae should be held in a pen or barn so they may be inspected. Then call the TAHC at 800/658-6642 or USDA's office in Austin at 512/916-5555 immediately if maggots or larvae are detected.

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