Flesh-Eating Screwworms Reach Florida's Mainland

The stray dog came with bad news. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that a dog near Homestead, Florida—a city 15 miles north of the Florida Keys—was found with wounds infested with screwworms, the much dreaded flesh-eating pest. If you’re not familiar with screwworm, it’s because the U.S. poured millions of dollars into eradicating them back in 1982. But last fall, it reemerged in the Florida Keys, catching almost everyone by surprise. Wildlife biologists eventually found several deer on the archipelago with the parasite. Screwworms lay eggs in open wounds, burrowing into the flesh of pets and occasionally even humans. Livestock, historically, was the big economic concern. Florida still sends hundreds thousands of young calves to herds around the country each year, so a screwworm infestation could do some real damage. “The screwworm is a potentially devastating animal disease that sends shivers down every rancher’s spine,” said Florida’s Commission of Agriculture Adam Putnam, in a statement that accompanied the official declaration of agricultural emergency last October. The screwworm “sends shivers down every rancher’s spine.”

Read More: The Atlantic


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