Florida plans biocontrol strategy for New World screwworm

In Southeast Farm Press

Following the announcement that a stray dog in Homestead, Fla., was positive for New World screwworm, the USDA and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will release sterile flies Jan. 13 in the Homestead area as a precautionary measure.

Since the 1950s, the Sterile Insect Technique has been used to effectively eradicate screwworm, and it is considered safe for people, animals and the environment.

“While the dog has been treated and is doing well, there are still a lot of unknowns about the dog’s history and recent locations. Given that Florida’s livestock industry is at stake, this sterile fly release is a precautionary move to ensure we’re doing everything we can to aggressively eradicate the screwworm from Florida,” stated Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

“The Sterile Insect Technique is the most effective resource we have to eliminate New World screwworm. We urge residents and visitors to observe their pets and other animals in the area for any suspicious wounds. These observations are critical to our eradication program,” said Dr. Jack Shere, USDA Chief Veterinarian.

New World screwworm was first confirmed Sept. 30, 2016 in Key deer from the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, Fla. This initial presence of screwworm was the first local detection in the United States in more than 30 years, and Putnam declared an agricultural state of emergency in Monroe County, Fla.

Read the rest of the story in Southeast Farm Press.

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