Have you ever imagined going about your day as usual while worms are crawling right under your skin? Do you like walking around barefoot with your pets right by your side? If you answered yes to the latter question, then you might want to continue reading, as you may be setting yourself up for the horror show that is a Mango Fly. Warning; the mango fly images are not for the faint hearted.
The Mango fly (no relation to the mango fruit) is also known as Bot fly, Tumbu fly, or Putzi fly. Where do mango flies come from? It is a fly whose habitat is located in tropical areas with high rainfall, that would mean that they are common in the northern area of South Africa such as Pretoria. Its scientific name is Cardylobia anthropophaga, but it is commonly referred to as Human eater and you will see why soon.
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The female mango fly normally lays its eggs in the soil. However, new cases of mango worms have shown that the female fly can also lay its eggs on damp clothing. Yikes! The larvae take 2-3 days to hatch and latch themselves to the host, which may be dogs, cats, and even humans. No need to worry about a mango fly bite since they do not bite at all. What you need to be cautious of is the mango fly worm, that little creature has the potential to drive you crazy.
How do mango fly worms get into humans? Once attached to the host, the mango worm burrows into the skin of the host to sustain its life. At this point, pimples form causing a skin condition called Cutaneous myasis. The larvae feed on the hosts living and dead tissue to sustain its life, this, in turn, causes the formation of a boil which normally shows up approximately three days later. At first, the host, mostly human hosts, will experience a slight itching sensation. As the larvae continues to eat away at the host's tissue, the pain will become more severe and intense as the lesions develop into boils.
After a few days, the boil erupts like an active volcano, releasing pus, small amounts of blood and the waste produced by the worms. The larvae continue to eat the host up from the inside and wiggle their way as they undergo the three larval stages which only make them bigger and hungrier. After maturing through the three stages to the perpupal stage, the maggot finally wiggles its way out of the host's skin, drops to the ground, and buries itself where it pupates to become an adult mango fly and contributes to the vicious cycle of Human eaters since it has attained reproductive maturity.
Can mango flies be prevented? No and yes. No, because they are flies and if you live in tropical areas with rainfall, then you have no means of effectively eliminating them. Yes, because they are also commonly found in soils contaminated with urine and faecal matter. If you clean up well after your pets and observe proper hygiene, mango flies and their notorious flesh eating larvae are not things you will have to worry about. Since the eggs are also found in soils, make sure to avoid walking around barefoot especially if you live in high risk areas. Keep the grass in your lawn short too.
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People living in high risk areas are advised to dry their clothes in a washing machine as opposed to hanging them outside to air dry. If the option of machine drying is off the table, make sure to avoid placing your dry clothing on soil and always iron them immediately after taking them off the line. The high heat kills the eggs before they get a chance to hatch.
Treatment - How to protect yourself from mango flies?
At the moment, there is no known medication or treatment to completely eliminate the worm. When they burrow in to your skin, your only options are to wait for the larvae to mature and emerge on its own or pop it out like a pimple. You can also opt to cover the boils with vaseline to cut off the larvae's supply of oxygen and eventually kill it. Seeing a doctor is the most advisable course of action to extract the little bugs. Always make sure to clean the lesions left to avoid infecting the wound. Also, since mango fly in dogs and other pets is common, make sure to occasionally check your pets for any lesions and schedule them for frequent vet visits if you are in a mango fly high risk area.
Are fly maggots dangerous? Apart from the boils they cause, no complications are associated with the maggots. They do not host any type of diseases and therefore pose no health risks. This is our silver lining here.
Facts about mango worms
- Mango flies depend on mammals to incubate and feed on their larvae. The most common hosts are dogs, rats, and livestock. Cases of humans being hosts is not very prevalent and they are considered accidental hosts.
- The secretions from the larvae inhibit bacterial growth. This is why they pose no health risks. However, it is still advisable to seek a formal medical opinion.
- The scientific name of the mango fly comes from the Greek word anthropophagos, which directly translates to 'human eater'. A rather befitting title.
- Deeply embedded larvae can be extracted using a venom extractor.
- Mango worms are spreading to other parts of the world because of infected persons who use air travel.
- Mango worms can implant themselves in a host in less than 25 seconds.
- The best way to extract mango worms in dogs is to just pop them out.
Though they pose no major threats to your health, it is safe to say that no one wants to be around mango flies and their larvae. Imagine having worms wriggling inside you or your beloved pet. So, Practice prevention and your life will be worm free.
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