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What is Fly Strike, also known as Myiasis?


Fly larvae (maggots) - photo credit: Dalius Baranauskas Wikipedia Creative Commons

Fly larvae (maggots) that cause "fly strike" in animals

Photo credit: Dalius Baranauskas Wikipedia Creative Commons
Question: What is Fly Strike, also known as Myiasis?
Maggot infestation is also called "fly blown" or "fly strike."
Answer: Maggots are the larvae of flies. Flies are common in the warmer months, and love dead, stinky, and rotting material. They lay eggs, and the eggs develop into larvae that need to eat. They larvae eat dead and rotting tissue, and look like small, white grub worms.

Fly larvae appear quite fast (8-12 hours), and will eat away tissue on your pet if the conditions are present - vomit, diarrhea, skin infection (blood, pus), poor skin/matted hair attract these pests.

This condition can occur in all animals, including humans. Maggots are also used medicinally to clean up (debride) wounds, but only under very controlled conditions.

The larvae only eat dead tissue, but they can be extremely painful and irritating to the pet. These conditions can appear and get worse within hours. Additionally, this condition can be fatal if left untreated. Please contact your veterinarian immediately, rather than wait.

It is important to find the cause of the initial maggot attraction (is your pet vomiting? have diarrhea? a wound?) and to prevent further maggot infestation. Very old, young, or compromised animals will be more at risk.

Treatment involves physical removal of the maggots, wound flushing and cleansing, removal of remaining dead tissue or fecal matter, clipping hair from the area to aid in drying of the affected areas, and often an antibiotic to speed healing. Also, the inciting cause of the myiasis (i.e. diarrhea) must be addressed and treated to prevent reinfection of the maggots.

Next: Protect your pet against Fly Strike (Myiasis)

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