A reader wrote us an urgent question about testing her dog for screw worms (also spelled as “screwworms”). She is from the U.S., but has been living in Cameroon for the last year, and she brought her dog with her. She recently found out that she needs to test her dog for screw worms (or, again, screwworms) before it can return with her to the U.S. Her return flight is only a couple of weeks away, although this is actually okay because her dog must be tested within five days of her departure. What the reader requested of us is a little unusual – she didn’t ask about how to go about testing her dog for screw worms, but rather for “any information” we can send to her so that she can take this information to a veterinarian, where a screw-worm test can be performed. On a previous visit to the vet, she was told that they hadn’t heard of any sort of test for screw worms, and hence her request for information.
We received an alarming email from a reader very recently and decided we must address it before some of the other questions that have accumulated (even though we will get to all them). The reader claimed to have screw worms – that is, she is infected with screw worms (sometimes spelled as one word, “screwworms”) – and she is obviously quite concerned about this. She is wondering what she should do, and the answer we give to someone with a screw worm infection is the same answer we give to anyone with a medical condition: seek medical care. Worms are our forte, so we certainly know a bit about screw worms, but anything we say should not in any way be construed as medical advice. That said, we can supply a little information about screw worms and the problems they cause, and it may be of assistance to our reader with the (potential) screw worm infection (but, again, it should absolutely not replace medical care).
Screwworm flies (a.k.a. “screw-worm flies” and “New World screwworm flies”) belong to the genus Cochliomyia. Within this genus, there are four different species, but only one of the species is a screwworm fly, which is known as Cochliomyia hominivorax. A reader recently wrote to us regarding the screwworm fly, asking how a human can rid him or herself of this parasitic worm. First, we will give a brief overview of the screwworm, explaining what it is, and then we will address the reader’s question specifically.