Deadly Parasite That Eats Pets Alive Resurfaces in Florida
Science| | By Lauren Boudreau
Hold on to your pets and don’t let them go. A parasite has resurfaced after 30 years to attack your pets.
Located primarily in the Florida Keys, this scary bug can eat pets and livestock alive. There was an outbreak of the bug about 30 years ago, but an infestation hasn’t been seen until now, according to CBS News. The bug is a maggot called the New World screwworm and once ran rampant, costing the U.S. livestock industry millions per year.
This new infestation was found killing local dog-sized deer native to the island, and the hope is to keep the bug from spreading by checking each incoming and outgoing animal for signs of infection.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told CBS, “We are obviously in a more remote part of the state with one way in and one way out.”
CBS reports that while the screwworm primarily infects animals, human infestation can occur in rare cases. They are about the size of a housefly and have orange eyes. Screwworms also exist in South America and some areas in the Caribbean.
The plan to combat them consists of releasing millions of sterilized males into the population to mate with females. The eggs that are produced won’t hatch, essentially killing the population over time. Treatments are also available for infected pets and livestock.
According to CBS, the sterilization treatment is widely used for controlling any infestations, such as the spread of the Zika virus. Putnam said the technique is so effective pesticides are not needed. Until then, maybe reconsider bringing Fido with you on vacation to the Keys.