parasites

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A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that the number of cases of one pool-borne illnesses is growing.

The study focused on one disease called cryptosporidiosis caused by parasites in fecal matter. It found that the number of cases grew by 13 percent from 2009 to 2017.

Alvina Chu of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County says incidences of the disease peak in July and August.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Self-medicating stations meant to protect the endangered Key deer from screwworm have already been removed and federal wildlife managers plan to stop medicating entirely on April 10 — assuming no new cases of the deadly parasite are found.

Screwworm was first confirmed in the Keys Sept. 30 and killed 135 Key deer, an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world. Before the outbreak, the population was estimated at 800 to 1,000 animals.

Christine Ogura / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thirty female Key deer are now wearing radio collars so biologists can track them during fawning season.

The deer will be watched closely because does and newborn fawns are especially vulnerable to screwworm. The parasite has killed 135 of the endangered animals so far. The herd was estimated at 800 to 1,000 animals before the outbreak.

Screwworm flies lay their eggs in open wounds on warm-blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living flesh of the host.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

A stray dog in Homestead was infested with screwworm, the invasive pest that is hated and feared by the agriculture industry, state officials said Monday.

It's the first case on the mainland. Screwworm was discovered last fall in the Lower Keys, the first U.S. infestation in more than 30 years.

Since then, more than 80 million sterile screwworm flies have been released in the Lower and Middle Keys. That's the proven method for eradicating screwworm.

Diane Borden-Billiot / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

A Key deer was euthanized this week after it was found to be infested with screwworm. That's the bad news.

The good news is that it had been almost a month since the previous death, Nov. 14. That means the loss of the endangered species has slowed way down since the outbreak was confirmed in late September.

A total of 133 Key deer have died from the screwworms. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in the open wounds of warm blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume the living flesh of the host.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

People in the Keys have been living alongside Key deer for a long time. And for ages, wildlife officials have implored people: Don't feed the deer.

But now the deer are in trouble, and breaking the old rules is part of the solution.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Federal authorities hope sterile screwworm fly releases and treating the Key deer will save the endangered species, which lives only on a few islands of the Lower Keys.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Since a screwworm infestation was identified in the Lower Keys, more than 10 million sterile screwworm flies have been released on eight islands.

Sterile flies are the proven technology to eradicate screwworms. The flies are zapped with gamma radiation, making them sterile. Then those sterile flies are released to breed with wild flies. That stops reproduction, preventing more fly larvae.

Those larvae are the problem. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in open wounds. When the larvae hatch — those larvae are the actual "screwworms" — they feed on the living flesh of the host.

Officials say they've found no evidence of screwworm in hundreds of pets examined for signs of the parasite killing endangered deer in the Florida Keys.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

A pest that had been eradicated from the U.S. has re-appeared in the Lower Florida Keys.

It's the first local infestation of New World screwworm in the U.S. in more than 30 years.