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Keeping your pets safe from screwworm
January 13, 2017 — Communications Department

Screwworm fly

Screwworms are the 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. If not caught and treated in time, death can result.

The aggressive screwworm differs from other flies. Most fly maggots only eat the superficially infected or dead flesh around a wound, the screwworm maggots burrow deeper into healthy tissue.
The tissue-eating maggots feed on the flesh causing severe damage to the tissue. 

Check your pets

  • If you have an outdoor pet check them at least once a day, preferably twice daily.
  • If your pet has any open wounds make sure that the wound is treated by your veterinarian. It is best to keep the pet indoors until the wound heals to avoid exposure. 
  • However, if you have to leave your pet outside, make sure that the wound is completely covered so that flies cannot get to it. 
  • Remember, screwworms like to lay their eggs in open wounds.

If your pet's wound looks odd

Take your pet to the veterinarian immediately! Screwworms can be treated if caught in time. Your pet will not be taken from you, but needs to have the wound treated by a veterinarian. Your pet will need both antibiotics and pain medication as screwworms are painful.

There is no over the counter medicine that you can put on your pet if it gets infected. Remember, screwworms dig deep into the pet’s tissue, therefore, it is important to obtain treatment from your veterinarian immediately.

Learn more about screwworms and how to protect your pets

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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