PRO/AH/EDR> New World screwworm (02): (Costa Rica) livestock, dog, sterile fly release


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 5 Aug 2023
Source: The Tico Times [edited]

Costa Rica is teaming up with Panama and the United States in an
urgent battle to eliminate an outbreak of invasive cattle screwworms
first detected last month [July 2023] near the Panama border.

The National Animal Health Service (SENASA) is collaborating closely
with the Panama-US Commission for the Eradication and Prevention of
Cattle Screwworm (COPEG) to control this dangerous parasitic pest
before it wreaks havoc on Costa Rica’s livestock industry.

Seven screwworm cases have already been confirmed across the border
region, affecting cattle, sheep, and a dog. To disrupt the fly’s
breeding cycle, planes have released over 10 million sterile male
flies over outbreak zones on 31 Jul and 3 Aug [2023]. The aerial
release will continue for as long as needed to suppress the

“This sterile insect technique has proven successful to eliminate
screwworms in the past,” said Dr. Alejandra Umana, a SENASA
veterinarian. “As sterile flies mate with wild females, they produce
no offspring, causing the infestation to die out.”

In tandem, SENASA has deployed traps to monitor the pest’s
distribution, and ground teams are visiting farms and tracking cases
to contain the outbreak. New animal control checkpoints in Sabanillas
de Limoncito and on the road to Golfito aim to stop transportation of
infested livestock.

“Producers must be vigilant and report any potential infestations
immediately,” urged Alexis Sandi, SENASA’s Head of Epidemiology.
“Early detection and treatment is critical.”

All citizens can help by promptly notifying SENASA if they suspect
screwworm cases. The agency is conducting heightened surveillance
countrywide to find new cases quickly before extensive agricultural
damage occurs.

Agriculture Minister Angel Gonzalez vowed to continue the fight for as
long as required. “We will not rest until this severe threat to Costa
Rica’s livestock and wildlife is eliminated,” he stated. “Controlling
invasive pests demands collaboration across borders and between
governments and citizens.”

The joint Costa Rica-Panama-US mission aims to safeguard the nation’s
biodiversity and economic interests. SENASA urges full public
cooperation and promises ongoing updates as progress unfolds.

[Byline: Ileana Fernandez]

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