Florida ag officials are closing the animal health checkpoint in Key Largo after no additional screwworms have been detected.
Florida ag officials sprang into action in late September of 2016 when New World screwworm was detected in Key Deer in Big Pine Key, one of the Florida Keys. Screwworms lay eggs in lesions in the skin of warm-blooded animals—livestock, pets and wildlife alike—and the hatching larvae feed on the tissues, causing extensive damage and even death to the host animal. Screwworms were once a huge problem for Florida ag—cattle ranchers and anyone with warm-blooded livestock or pets—until massive eradication efforts in the 1950s eradicated the pest from Florida; the rest of the U.S. soon followed. Mexico was declared free in the 1990s. However, there are still screwworms in South America, and that’s likely how the pest found its way back to Florida.
Florida Ag Officials’ Response
After screwworms were detected in Key Deer in the Florida Keys, Florida ag officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked tirelessly to halt the pest’s further expansion. Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam declared an agricultural emergency and an animal quarantine for Monroe country, an animal checkpoint was established at mile marker 106 for animals traveling north out of the Florida Keys, and ag officials released sterile screwworm males to breed out wild populations.
Screwworms were detected in a few pets, and over 16,000 pets and livestock were examined at the checkpoint. Screwworms were also detected in a stray dog in Homestead, Florida. Florida ag officials released sterilized flies there as well.
Ag officials have decided to close the Animal Health Check Point in Key Largo since no further screwworms have been detected since January, according to a FDACS press release.
The release urges that “Residents who have warm-blooded animals (pets, livestock, etc.) should continue to watch their animals carefully and report any potential cases to 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).”
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.
Photo courtesy of Peggy Greb.