Current status of the New World screwwormCochliomyia hominivoraxin Venezuela

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Abstract

The geographical distribution and seasonality of the New World screwworm (NWS), Cochliomyia hominivorax Coquerel (Diptera: Calliphoridae), were monitored through the use of sentinel animals as part of a co-ordinated programme involving veterinarians and farmers, as well as undergraduate students and teachers from veterinary colleges in Venezuela. This surveillance activity made it possible to collect NWS egg masses or larvae from all 23 states in the country and to determine that the rainy season has a strong positive influence on the number of cases of myiasis caused by C. hominivorax in dogs. In addition, efforts were made to obtain the co-operation of the public health service in order to document the extent of human myiasis in the western–central region of Venezuela. Preliminary results revealed 241 cases over a 7-year period, with cases reported in infants as well as in elderly people. Larvae causing myiasis, other than C. hominivorax, were collected from primary myiasis in rabbit (Lucilia eximia [Wiedemann]), dog (an unidentified sarcophagid species), birds (Philornis sp.) and wild mice (Cuterebra sp.). The economic impact of NWS in Venezuela has not been calculated in terms of loss of milk and meat production, damage to hides or death of animals. Control costs (e.g. cost of larvicides) have been estimated at US$ 2 m per year. Control of myiasis in animals is achieved through the use of chemical compounds, mainly organophosphorus (OP) compounds, macrocyclic lactones and, more recently, a foamy spray based on spinosad. Concerns about insecticide resistance to OP compounds have been raised.

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