screwworm

U.S. agriculture officials are releasing the last sterilized flies to fight a flesh-eating parasite in a Florida Keys wildlife refuge.

Endangered deer in the Florida Keys are no longer receiving anti-parasite medication to protect against flesh-eating screwworms.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Key deer no longer need oral medications because it's been over three months since the last confirmed screwworm infection in the National Key Deer Refuge.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Almost six months after the New World screwworm outbreak was identified in the Florida Keys, the state Department of Agriculture announced the lifting the animal quarantine in Monroe County. The checkpoint in Key Largo for animals leaving the Keys closed as of 7 p.m. Saturday.

Wildlife Officials: Screwworm Infestation Declining In Keys

Mar 7, 2017

Wildlife officials say a screwworm infestation in the Florida Keys seems to be declining, which is good news for a unique deer herd threatened by the flesh-eating parasites.


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.

Agriculture officials will release flies sterilized with radiation in the Homestead area, where a stray dog was infected with a flesh-eating parasite.


Miami-Dade Mayor Says Screwworm Limited To 1 Stray Dog

Jan 11, 2017

The mayor of Miami-Dade County says he'll devote "whatever resources are necessary" to protect pets and livestock on Florida's mainland from screwworms.


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.

Only In Florida Moments 2016: Wildlife Edition

Dec 28, 2016
Creative Commons via Flickr / Users: Adam Axon, USDA, William Warby and John Tann

What happens when you expose a Florida resident to mosquitoes, screw worms or gators?

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

It appears the endangered Key deer are winning the battle against the deadly screwworm fly.

But U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials are taking no chances as the deer head into fawning season, when the does and fawns will be especially vulnerable. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in the open wounds of warm-blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living flesh of the host.

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.

Wildlife officials say a two-month-long screwworm outbreak among Key deer has helped biologists develop better counts of the elusive herd.


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.

Credit Mark Hedden / WLRN

This week on The Florida Roundup...

The State of Florida has budgeted about 12 million dollars to help Miami-Dade County in its efforts to battle Zika and the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Now, Florida's Surgeon General is requesting a comprehensive Zika action plan from the county to detail spending. Mayor Gimenez says he will comply. Does this signify a rift between the state and the county? WLRN's Sammy Mack and The Miami Herald's Daniel Chang fill us in on the latest.

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