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.
Unfortunately, we don’t really know what to tell our reader other than that we feel for her and hope she can find a solution to her problem. We don’t know what kind of information we could send her that will help with her situation. Any vet should certainly know about screw worm infections, and they should also know about getting rid of screw worms. This is especially true in areas of the world like Africa, where screw worms have not been eradicated. Perhaps these articles will be of assistance to our reader. There is also a good guide to screw worms and the myiasis they cause published by the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. Any of these articles or guides will at least convey what screw worms are. Not surprisingly, given their source, they are all written in English, and perhaps the reader’s vet doesn’t understand English, and that’s obviously something we can’t do anything about. (English and French are official languages in Cameroon, but French is more widely understood. For what it’s worth, the french term for screw worm is evidently lucilie bouchère, but, not being French speakers ourselves, don’t quote us on this.) One final thing we’ll mention is that we wonder if an institution like the World Organization for Animal Health could be of any assistance. Maybe they have helped with similar problems before.
As we conclude, it is worth briefly mentioning (even though this is explained in greater detail in our other articles) that screw worms infect open wounds, generally in animals because humans tend to dress their wounds. Thus, the reader should check her dog for wounds and perhaps direct her vet’s attention to these wounds as well. Again, a vet should be able to see if anything is wrong (like if the wound is oozing a reddish-brown excretion) and treat the wound if necessary. Unfortunately, that is about all we can say, but hopefully we’ve at least pointed our reader in the direction of some helpful articles.
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