Rare Parasite That Can Eat Pets Alive Resurfaces in Florida
For the first time in 30 years, authorities in the Florida Keys say there has been a resurgence of the New World screwworm, a parasite the size of a housefly that can eat small animals alive, the Associated Press reported.
The USDA said on September 30 that the screwworm had been killing species of a miniature deer only found in the Keys.
Key deer--about the size of a dog and number about 1,000 in the area--have been found to be infected by the worm.
Decades ago the screwworm cost the agriculture industry millions of dollars after they began feeding off and killing livestock
The screwworm can also kill small pets like dogs.
It lays its eggs near open wounds, which the larvae feed on after they are born.
Though they don't travel very much, the screwworm can be transmitted to other areas if a host is transported there.
To help curtail the screwworm's affect outside the part of the Keys it has been found, officials have been screening pets in vehicles traveling US-1, the only highway onto and off of the mainland.
The USDA will be releasing millions of sterillized male screwworm flies, which will mate with females and produce infertile eggs.
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