Chrysomya bezziana infestation
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Chrysomya bezziana infestation
International Common Names
- English: Old world screwworm; Old World Screw-worm fly; Screw-worm fly
Local Common Names
- India: Peenash (rhinal myiasis)
- Indonesia: Belatungan
- Papua New Guinea: Lik Lik Snake (larval infestation)
OverviewTop of page
Chrysomya bezziana, the Old World Screw-worm fly, is distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, SE Asia and New Guinea, where the larvae parasitize warm-blooded animals including livestock and humans. Larvae feeding on the skin and underlying tissues of the host cause wound or traumatic myiasis, which can be fatal. Infestations are generally acquired at sites of wounding, but they may also occur in the mucous membranes of body orifices.
At present, the only means for control of C. bezziana infestations of livestock are regular inspections and treatment of infested stock using a variety of insecticides.
The most likely route for an incursion of Chrysomya bezziana to a new location is via an infested host animal, be it livestock or human. To prevent the spread of the pest to new geographical regions, C. bezziana is subject to strict global quarantine restrictions as set down in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Australia maintains an official state of awareness and preparedness with respect to a potential C. bezziana incursion (Animal Health Australia AUSVETPLAN, 2007).
Host AnimalsTop of page
|Animal name||Context||Life stage||System|
|Bos indicus (zebu)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Bos taurus (cattle)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Bubalus bubalis (Asian water buffalo)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Canis familiaris (dogs)||Domesticated host, Wild host|
|Capra hircus (goats)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Sheep & Goats: All Stages|
|Gallus gallus domesticus (chickens)||Domesticated host||Poultry: Young poultry|Poultry/Mature female|Poultry/Cockerel|Poultry/Mature male|
|Ovis aries (sheep)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Sheep & Goats: All Stages|
|Panthera leo (lion)|
|Sus scrofa (pigs)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Pigs: All Stages|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
All warm-blooded terrestrial animals are susceptible to Chrysomya bezziana, including humans, birds, wildlife and livestock. In Africa, C. bezziana infestations have been recorded on buck, impala, lions, rhinos and elephants (Zumpt, 1965). Pre-disposing factors include wounds such as cuts and scratches, while the umbilical of the new-born, the vulva of post-parturition females, scrotum of post-castration or de-horned and branded cattle are especially vulnerable. Where exotic animals are maintained in a C. bezziana endemic area such as a zoo, many other animal species not normally exposed as hosts can be infested by C. bezziana. For example, at the Zoo Negara in Malaysia, kangaroos, wallabies and polar bears have been recorded as hosts (Spradbery and Vanniasingham, 1980).
Systems AffectedTop of page mammary gland diseases of large ruminants
mammary gland diseases of small ruminants
skin and ocular diseases of large ruminants
skin and ocular diseases of small ruminants
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Bahrain||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Invasive||Kloft et al., 1981; Hall et al., 2001|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Introduced||2000||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Ng et al., 2003; Ready et al., 2009|
|India||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947; Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Andhra Pradesh||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Chhattisgarh||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Dadra and Nagar Haveli||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Goa||Present||Native||Invasive||J.P. Spradbery, personal observation, 1994|
|-Karnataka||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Kerala||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Maharashtra||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Odisha||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Rajasthan||Present||Native||Invasive||J.P. Spradbery, personal observation, 1994|
|-Tamil Nadu||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-West Bengal||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|Indonesia||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Irian Jaya||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Java||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Kalimantan||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Sulawesi||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|-Sumatra||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964; Wardhana et al., 2014|
|Iran||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Hall et al., 2001; Hall et al., 2009||Boushehr and Hormozoan Provinces|
|Iraq||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Hall et al., 2001; Hall et al., 2009||Basrah, Karbala and Diayala Provinces|
|Kuwait||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Rajapaksa and Spradbery, 1989; Hall et al., 2001|
|Malaysia||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Norris and Murray, 1964|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|Myanmar||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947; Norris and Murray, 1964; Hall et al., 2001|
|Oman||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Spradbery et al., 1992; Hall et al., 2009||Al-Batina, Al-Shargiah and Interior Districts|
|Pakistan||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947; Hall et al., 2001|
|Qatar||Present||Native||Invasive||Rajapaksa and Spradbery, 1989|
|Saudi Arabia||Present||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Ansari and Oertley, 1982; Hall et al., 2009||Al-Khari, Al-Muzahimiyah, Al-Ehsaa|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947|
|Taiwan||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|United Arab Emirates||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Spradbery and Kirk, 1992; Hall et al., 2001|
|Yemen||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Robinson et al., 2009|
|Cameroon||Present||Native||Invasive||Hall et al., 2001|
|Chad||Present||Native||Invasive||Hall et al., 2001|
|Congo Democratic Republic||Present||Native||Invasive||Rovere, 1910; Hall et al., 2014|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947|
|Equatorial Guinea||Present||Native||Invasive||James, 1947|
|Ethiopia||Present||Native||Invasive||Hall et al., 2001||Two localities: Gondar, Yabello|
|Guinea-Bissau||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|Senegal||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964|
|South Africa||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Baker et al., 1968; Hall et al., 2014||East Cape Province|
|Sudan||Present||Native||Invasive||Hall et al., 2014|
|Tanzania||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964; Hall et al., 2014|
|Zimbabwe||Present||Native||Invasive||Wardhana et al., 2012b; Cuthbertson, 1933; Hall et al., 2001|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Absent, intercepted only||Not invasive||Rajapaksa and Spradbery, 1989||Port Darwin,1988|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Native||Invasive||Norris and Murray, 1964; Hall et al., 2001; Spradbery and Tozer, 2013|
PathologyTop of page
Within hours of hatching from the eggs, first-instar larvae establish cavities in the subcutaneous tissue and these are enlarged by the action of the larval mouth hooks as they grow and migrate deeper into the muscle tissue. Clinically, irritation and pyrexia occur. By day 7, when the larvae are mature, progressive necrosis and liquefaction of tissues result in deep wounds with frayed necrotic edges. Histologically, necrosis is accompanied by intense neutrophil infiltration and haemorrhage. Haematological and biochemical changes also occur, notably neutrophilia and anaemia, and a decrease in serum protein with an increase in serum globulins. Significant weight loss occurs in infested animals. The pathology of C. bezziana infestations on cattle has been studied in detail by Humphrey et al. (1980).
DiagnosisTop of page
Signs of infestation include a ragged lesion containing larvae of Chrysomya bezziana, persistent licking of the lesion by the host, an initial hypersensitivity after which sensitivity decreases. Restlessness, lethargy, inappetence with a decrease in growth rate, anaemia and hypoproteinaemia, and intermittent irritation and pyrexia characterize the condition. The lesion can extend into the body cavities causing peritonitis, sinusitis and pleuritis depending on the site of infestation. There is a foul-smelling and characteristically pungent odour associated with C. bezziana-infested lesions.
Early larval invasion of the damaged epidermis by newly-hatched larvae create small cavities 5-10mm in diameter with the larvae bathed in a serous fluid and visibly active. Within 24 hours the cavities are enlarged and extend into the subcutaneous tissue and muscles. Progressive liquifactive necrosis of the tissues continues as the larvae grow and the lesion becomes cavernous with ragged edges. In the depths of the lesion are a seething, pulsating mass of larvae covered in liquefied tissue and blood.
Myiasis due to Chrysomya bezziana must be distinguished from myiases due to other species of carrion blowflies (Calliphorinae). In the sheep blowflies, Lucilia cuprina and L. sericata, the larvae feed superficially on the surface of the wound or fleece and sustained by the serous exudate from the host animal. If disturbed, C. bezziana larvae retract deeper into the wound while Lucilia tend to evacuate the site and burrow into surrounding wool. Any lesions, especially following invasive husbandry such as castration or de-horning, should be explored with a view to the possibility of C. bezziana infestation. Diagnosis of a screw-worm fly infestation is normally made after detecting larvae and collecting specimens for storage in 80 per cent ethanol for microscopic examination in the laboratory (Spradbery, 2002a).
Histologically, two phases are evident: firstly of necrosis, neutrophil infiltration and haemorrhage associated with tissue invasion and growth of larvae; and then a fibroplastic healing phase in which mast cells and eosinophils are prominent. Biochemical changes include initial neutrophilia, anaemia and decreased serum protein with progressive increase in serum globulins (Humphrey et al., 1980). Specimens of first to third instar larvae (and including pupae and adults) from infested wounds can be readily diagnosed by reference to Spradbery (2002a) and first-instar larvae by Szpila et al. (2014). A technique for identifying geographical races of C. bezziana adults based on wing morphometrics has been described (Hall et al., 2014).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia||Sign|
|General Signs / Haemorrhage of any body part or clotting failure, bleeding||Diagnosis|
|General Signs / Swelling skin or subcutaneous, mass, lump, nodule||Diagnosis|
|General Signs / Weight loss||Sign|
|Skin / Integumentary Signs / Foul odor skin, smell||Diagnosis|
|Skin / Integumentary Signs / Purulent discharge skin||Diagnosis|
|Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin laceration, cut, tear, bite||Diagnosis|
|Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin necrosis, sloughing, gangrene||Diagnosis|
|Skin / Integumentary Signs / Warm skin, hot, heat||Sign|
EpidemiologyTop of page
Adults of C. bezziana are not parasitic but lay their eggs on the edge of wounds or body orifaces on host animals which include all warm-blooded animals such as birds and mammals including humans. Up to 245 (mean 180) eggs are laid in a compact mass from which first-instar larvae emerge and begin feeding on the superficial wound fluids before beginning to excavate the flesh by tearing the capillaries with their mouth hooks (Spradbery, 2002a). Within 24 hours, cavities appear which extend deeply into the subcutaneous tissues. A progressive necrosis of skin and muscle continues as the larvae pass through two instar changes and in the final, third instar most larval growth takes place (Humphrey et al., 1980). Lesions emit a characteristic pungent, sickly odour which also attracts other C. bezziana females to oviposit. After 6-7 days feeding, the larvae migrate from the lesion and, primarily overnight, evacuate the host wound and begin to burrow into the substrate where they pupariate (Spradbery, 1992). Emergence of adults is temperature dependent and takes place after 7 days or more. Females normally mate only once.
Impact: EconomicTop of page
In Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) Chrysomya bezziana is, with the exception of the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans, the most important insect pest of cattle, horses, dogs and other domestic animals (Cuthbertson, 1933). When the tick control programme broke down during the 1973-1978 guerilla war in Rhodesia, more than 300,000 livestock were lost, the majority due to C. bezziana infestations (Norval, 1978). C. bezziana is considered a major obstacle to large-scale beef production in Malaysia (Basset and Kadir 1982). The economic impact of the 1996 Iraq incursion included an estimated FAO/AOAD budget at the time of US$8,555,000 to counter the invasion (Spradbery and El-Dessouky, 1998). The cost of a C. bezziana incursion resulting in the establishment of the pest in Australia was estimated as high as $AUD900 million per annum a decade ago (Kwabena Anaman in Spradbery, 2002b). The social impact of livestock production losses is matched by the misery of human infestations caused by C. bezziana, especially among children and the aged and infirm. The adverse impacts on wildlife would also be considerable.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Local Control (vaccination, restriction of movement, regulation)
At present, the only means for control of Chrysomya bezziana infestations of livestock are regular inspections and treatment of infested stock using a variety of insecticides. Wardhaugh and Mahon (2002) reviewed the use of insecticides as an integral part of the deployment of the sterile insect release method (SIRM) for control and eradication of C. bezziana. The range of potential treatment chemicals has been reviewed by James et al. (2005) and James et al. (2014) tested the efficacy of Australian-registered chemical formulations against C. bezziana in animal and laboratory evaluations. The sterile insect release method (SIRM) / sterile insect technique (SIT) has been experimentally evaluated for deployment against C. bezziana in field trials in Papua New Guinea (Spradbery et al., 1989) and Malaysia (Mahon, 2002) and is included in the Australian response plan for a C. bezziana incursion (Animal Health Australia AUSVETPLAN, 2007). A potential vaccine for C. bezziana has been explored by an Indonesian/Australian team (Sukarsih Partoutomo et al., 2000; Willadsen, 2000). Livestock movement controls should reduce the rate of spread of a C. bezziana outbreak and is an integral component of the Australian response plan for a screw-worm fly invasion (Ausvetplan, 2007). An effective bait-trapping procedure for surveillance has been developed to capture adults of C. bezziana (Urech et al., 2012, 2014) and, with a real-time PCR assay, can be used to detect very low numbers of C. bezziana in bulk fly catches from insect traps (Jarrett et al., 2010).
National and International Control Policy (vaccination programmes, quarantine regulation)
Old World Screw-worm fly, C. bezziana, is subject to strict global quarantine restrictions as set down in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code to prevent the spread of the pest to new geographical regions. Australia is free of screw-worm fly but with a climate suitable for C. bezziana (Sutherst et al., 1989) and there are national quarantine restrictions and an extensive surveillance program as part of the Australian emergency preparedness plan for screw-worm fly (Animal Health Australia AUSVETPLAN, 2007).
The risks of a C. bezziana incursion into Australia and recommended surveillance requirements have been recently reviewed (Beckett et al., 2014).
ReferencesTop of page
Abdul Rassoul MS; Ali HA; Jassim FA, 1996. Notes on Chrysomya bezziana Villeneuve (Diptera: Calliphoridae), first recorded from Iraq. Bulletin of the Iraq Natural History Museum, 8:113-115.
Al-Izzi MAJ; Al-Taweel AA; Jassim FA, 1999. Epidemiology and rearing of Old World screwworm, Chrysomya bezziana Villeneuve (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in Iraq. Iraqi Journal of Agriculture, 4:153-160.
Animal Health Australia, 2007. Disease Strategy: Screw-worm fly (Version 3). Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN), Edition 3. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Primary Industries Ministerial Council, 60 pp.
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Basset CR; Kadir SBA, 1982. The screw-worm fly (Chrysomya bezziana): an obstacle to large-scale beef production in Malaysia. In: Animal production and health in the tropics. Proceedings of the First Asian-Australasian Animal Science Congress, Serdang, 2nd-5th September 1980 [ed. by M.R. Jainudeen\A.R. Omar]. Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia: Universiti Pertanian, 133-135.
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Wardhaugh KG; Mahon RJ, 2002. Insecticides as an integral part of the sterile insect technique for the control of Old World screw-worm fly, Chrysomya bezziana. In: Proceedings of the Screw-worm Fly Emergency Preparedness Conference, Canberra, Australia, November 2001., Australia: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia, 103-110.
ContributorsTop of page
21/07/15 Original text by:
Dr J. Philip Spradbery, XCS Consulting Pty Ltd, GPO Box 2566, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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