New World Screwworms (NWS) are fly larvae that infest the living tissue of warm-blooded animals, causing a condition known as Myiasis. NWS had been eradicated in the US for many years until 2016 when an outbreak in the Florida Keys was detected.. The response to this outbreak was relatively small, Key deer were heavily impacted but there was virtually no livestock involvement, still this response cost taxpayers over 3 million dollars. A widespread outbreak in a state such as Texas where there is a large population of cattle, sheep and goats would have devastating economic consequences. NWS have also been known to affect zoo animals, making this a concern for our industry.
Dr. Yvonne Nadler of the ZAHP Fusion Center and Gavin Livingston of the Source Population Alliance recently attended a NWS exercise development workshop with the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and representatives from the Texas agricultural Industry. This workshop refined an outbreak scenario, developed along with SES, Inc, that would be used in an exercise to assess state preparedness for a NWS outbreak. Feedback from the workshop will refine the exercise, which will be made available in the future to be used by susceptible states.
Based on the importance of preventing NWS from becoming established in our southern states, Dr. Johanna Davis of USDA Veterinary Services is preparing a webinar that will discuss specific NWS concerns for the exotic animal industry. A formal announcement for this webinar will be sent in a future update once a date has been set.
In the meantime, visit the USDA disease information page for more information on NWS. The Disease Response Strategy New World Screwworm Myiasis is especially timely, having been updated with lessons learned from the recent Florida outbreak.