ISSN 2398-2985      

Fly strike

4ferrets

Synonym(s): Myiasis, Blow strike, Maggot infestation, Cuterebriasis


Introduction

  • Cause: fly larvae causing tissue damage. In the UK it is commonly caused by Lucilia spp (greenbottle fly) and in the USA Wohlfahrtia vigil, the flesh fly. Cuterebra spp can also cause myiasis. In reptiles, maggots of botflies, Phormia spp, Lucilia spp, Calliphora spp and Cistudinomyia cistudinis can cause myiasis.
  • Signs: depression, collapse, presence of fly larvae, open wounds, death.
  • Diagnosis: observation of fly larvae/maggots.
  • Treatment: fluid therapy, analgesia, supportive care, remove maggots, flush wounds, systemic antibiosis, address underlying causes.
  • Prognosis: depends on the severity; good if treated very early on.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Fly larvae causing tissue damage. In the UK it is commonly caused by Lucilia spp (greenbottle fly) and in the USA Wohlfahrtia vigil, the flesh fly. Cuterebra spp can also cause myiasis.
  • Fly strike is uncommon in ferrets but has been reported in farmed ferrets and mink caused by Wohlfahrtia vigil larvae.

Predisposing factors

General

Specific

  • Environmental conditions of at least 60% humidity and 9-11°C/48.2-51.8°F for fly larva development.

Pathophysiology

Myiasis by Lucilia spp

  • Flies lay eggs in open wounds or soiled skin/fur.
  • Eggs → L1 larvae. L1 maggots do not cause tissue damage.
  • L1 larvae → L2 → L3.
  • Larvae bury deeper into tissues.
  • Extensive tissue damage, secondary infections, and potentially fatal toxin release.

Myiasis by Cuterebra flies

  • Flies lay eggs on skin.
  • Developing larvae migrate through subcutaneous tissues or enter the subcutis through body openings.
  • Subdermal cysts seen with breathing hole caused by botfly.
  • Larvae 1-3 cm in length can be visualized within the lesion.

Timecourse

Myiasis by Lucilia spp

  • Eggs → L1 larvae (within 12 h). These are not harmful.
  • L1 larvae → L2 → L3 (within 3 days).

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Fehr M, Koestlinger S (2013) Ectoparasites in small exotic mammals. Vet Clin Exot Anim 16 (3), 611-657 PubMed.
  • Powers L V (2009) Bacterial and parasitic diseases of ferrets. Vet Clin Exot Anim 12 (3), 531-561 PubMed.
  • Lichtenberger M (2007) Shock and cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation in small mammals and birds. Vet Clin Exot Anim 10 (2), 275-291 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Hawkins M G, Pascoe P J (2021) Anesthesia, analgesia, and sedation of small mammals. In: Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C, Carpenter J W (eds). Elsevier, St Louis, Missouri, pp. 536-558
  • Meredith A (2014) Dermatoses. In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Meredith A, Lord B (eds). BSAVA, Gloucester, pp. 255-263.
  • Meredith A (2009) Ferrets: Dermatoses. In: BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. Keeble E, Meredith A (eds). BSAVA, Gloucester, pp. 269-274.
  • Lewington J H (2000) Appendix. In: Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. Lewington J H (ed). Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, pp. 273-282.

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