What is a botfly?
Camp Companion often comes across cats and dogs that have been out on their own, which means these animals often hunt for survival. This leaves them vulnerable to parasites such as botfly. Cuterebra, commonly known as botfly, are a species of flies that are also known as warbles during their early stages as larvae. Cuterebra eggs are commonly found in the ground near the opening of rabbit or rodent habitats.
Once the eggs hatch the larvae enter their host through an open wound or the animal’s nose or mouth. The larvae move to the tissues beneath the skin where they finish their development. The botfly develops under the tissue in a cocoon-like stage, and then leaves the host to finish its development in the forest floor. Adult botflies only live for less than two weeks and mate before thy die. Rodents and rabbits are the typical hosts of botfly.
Who has it?
Cats can be accidental hosts as the larvae may enter through their nose or mouth while hunting. The process described above is how the botfly develops within a cat’s body as well. The early stage of Cuterebra is not usually diagnosed with inspection of the skin. Most of the time, a botfly infestation is not diagnosed until the larvae have burrowed underneath the cat’s tissue and enlarges.
Once the botfly has nestled under the cat’s tissue a small “breathing” hole will develop, which is how most infestations are diagnosed in cats (see image of Randall below). The breathing hole enlarges once the botfly is about to leave the cat and has fully matured. With close inspection of the cat, Cuterebra can be diagnosed once the breathing hole is made or enlarges.
Most of the time botfly infection is not diagnosed until it has left the cat and the area it once occupied has become infected with bacteria and/or becomes an abscess in the cat’s skin. Treatment varies dependent on the stage it is diagnosed in a cat. If the botfly is found prior to leaving the cat’s body, it is removed surgically by a veterinarian and antibiotics are prescribed. If the site is diagnosed after the botfly has left the cat, the site is cleaned out and antibiotics are prescribed.
The best prevention is to keep your loved cat indoors if possible. If your cat travels outdoors among the world, make sure he/she is not hunting rodents and/or rabbits. Also, make sure to check your cat’s skin often to prevent a Cuterebra infection.
Meet Matthew B. Lobster
Matthew B. Lobster is a short-haired kitten that was found in the Red Lobster parking lot at Apache Mall by a boy names Matthew B. After Matthew spotted the kitten, two families from Winona made a circle around the kitten. He eventually came to them when they sat down on the ground. Matthew B. Lobster was found to have a one botfly on him that was then removed by a local veterinarian. He is now a healthy boy and has happily found his forever home!
To view other adoptable pets please visit www.campcompanion.org.
Written by Carlie Lovejoy