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Collecting maggots for Screw Worm Fly surveillance

Surveillance for Screw-Worm Fly is a priority for livestock industries in Northern Australia. NABS network vets are asked to:

  • Investigate all cases of myiasis in pets or livestock to determine the species responsible
  • Encourage producer clients to collect and submit maggots if they see them in wounds in live animals.
Animal Health Australia has ‘Got Maggots’ kits which are easy to store and use

Surveillance for screw-worm fly includes regular fly trapping and targeted surveys for livestock wound myiasis in multiple locations across Northern Australia (especially around the ports). Vigilance by vets in the field is also essential. Sending maggots from wounds for expert identification is key. 

Collecting and transporting maggots

  1. Confine the animal
  2. Take photos of the wound and extracted maggots, preferably with a reference object to show scale
  3. Gently wash the wound with running water to reduce decaying matter and secondary-strike flies.
  4. Use tweezers to collect up to 10 maggots from deep in the wound. Collect different sizes if possible.
  5. Place them into hot water (just off the boil) for 10 seconds. This kills the maggots and helps to preserve their structure, assisting in their identification.
  6. Place them into  preservative – the Got Maggots kit bottle, or into a small container of 70% ethanol or raw vinegar, and seal the lid tightly.
  7. Fill in the lab submission. Include information about the history of wound development, the animal’s recent travel history and observations about the wound and maggots (sight and smell).
  8. Pack. Place tubes and absorbent tissue into the small ziplock bag, exclude excessive air and seal. Place bagged maggot sample into the large ziplock bag and seal. Place into the mailing bag with the completed laboratory submission form.
  9. Send by postal mail to your government laboratory. Contact the lab, if possible, to inform them that samples are on the way – and email or text the photos.