Flystrike (maggots)

June 20, 2013

With the warmer weather we have had in the last few weeks, the Vets at Donaldson’s have seen the usual stream of summer conditions presented at the surgery. Today’s column deals with one of the few conditions that turns my stomach (after nearly 18 years in the job, I tend to have quite a strong constitution) so if you are reading this while eating your dinner, I would suggest that you come back to it when you have finished your meal.

On Sunday, we saw an injured stray cat that had a deep skin laceration at his tail head.

The injury had obviously happened a couple of days earlier and the wound had attracted flies that feed on the tissue around the wound then lay their eggs in the open wound. In warm weather, the fly’s eggs will hatch out as maggots within a couple of days.

We call this condition “blow fly strike”.

By the time the stray cat was found, hundreds of maggots had matured and caused extensive damage. Sadly, the decision was taken that the cat should be euthanased to relieve its pain and suffering.

Although this particular cat was stray and, without an owner, the circumstances that lead to the maggot infestation were unavoidable, it is essential that all pet owners are vigilant at this time of the year to avoid blow fly strike.

Flies are attracted to blood and pus so any wounds should have immediate veterinary attention to minimise the risk.

The flies are also attracted to faeces and urine and so it is essential that litter trays and bedding are kept clean and any soiling is immediately dealt with to minimise the risks associated with maggots. This can be a particular problem in rabbits which are not always very good at keeping themselves clean at the back end.

Susceptible rabbits should be cleaned and checked at the back end two or three times per day to ensure that you catch a problem immediately.

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