History of the screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) eradication in the Eastern Hemisphere.



Kouba V.

Former Chief, Animal Health Service, Food and Agriculture. Organization of the United Nations, P.B. 516, 17000 Prague 7, Czech Republic.

Hist Med Vet. 2004;29(2):43-53.


The screwworm caused by Cochliomyia Hominivorax, attacking warm-blooded animals and man, was discovered for the first time in the history outside of American continent, in the Eastern Hemisphere. After confirming the occurrence of this horrible myiasis in North Africa in 1989, Tripoli sheep import quarantine was traced as primary outbreak locality. The myiasis spread rapidly invading vast territory during several months. The invaded territory of 25000 km2 with more than 2.7 million domestic animals was identified between Mediterranean Sea and Sahara desert threatening territories in Africa and Mediterranean basin. From July 1989 up to eradication in April 1991 were discovered 14,111 cases. Classical control methods were not able to block screwworm spreading and eradicate it. Decision was made to use as the main method the sterile insect technique. Irradiated sterile flies were airlifted from Mexico factory. There were dispersed aerially about 1260 million flies covering invaded territories and 15000 km2 of protective barrier zones. Successful program cost almost 100 million US$. After the eradication Africa as well as Eastern Hemisphere could be declared to be again free of this myiasis. It was the most effective and successful international animal health program in the history of the United Nations Organization.

Keywords: Cochliomyia hominivorax,screwworm