Disease surveillance and control

Screw-worm fly surveillance and preparedness program

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You must report screw-worm fly in the Northern Territory (NT).

Screw-worm fly infection is a serious animal disease which would have serious consequences for the northern livestock industry if the fly was to be found in Australia.

Screw-worm fly is a fatal insect parasite of warm-blooded animals including people and birds.

What it looks like

The fly has red eyes and a shiny blue-green body. It looks similar to Australian blowflies.

The flies lay eggs on the edge of open wounds from scratches, injury, branding, dehorning or castration.

Maggots hatch and feed on the underlying flesh, causing extensive tissue damage. Left untreated, animals can die from infection and loss of tissue fluid.

To read about how to identify and report screw-worm fly, go to the Animal Health Australia website.

Surveillance activities

Three sites close to the Darwin port are monitored throughout the year for screw-worm fly.

How to monitor wounds in livestock

It's important you check wounds on livestock for maggots to ensure early detection of screw-worm fly.

If you find maggots, you should follow the steps below:

Step 1. Collect up to 10 maggots from deep in the wound.

Step 2. Drop them in hot water for one minute.

Step 3. Place the maggots in a container with 3 parts methylated spirit to one part water, or vinegar.

Step 4. Report the maggots - see below.

For more information on how to diagnose and control screw-worm fly, go to the Animal Health Australia website.

How to report screw-worm fly maggots

To report the maggots, contact your local livestock biosecurity officer.

If you suspect your animals have screw-worm fly, you can call the national emergency disease watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

If you find maggots, you should follow the instructions in the collection and transportation of screw-worm fly maggots fact sheet PDF (323.0 KB).

For more information, go to the Animal Health Australia website.

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Last updated: 20 May 2022

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