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Flystrike

Other Names: Myiasis, Fly Blown

Flystrike, also known as myiasis, is a condition where flies lay their eggs in the chicken's skin or body cavities, resulting in the hatching larvae (maggots) eating the surrounding tissue. Flystrike usually occurs in open wounds or below the vent in chickens with feces-coated feathers, as these are both attractive mediums for flies to lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the maggots immediately start to feed on the bird's cutaneous or underlying tissue, causing significant pain and serious damage. Chickens infested with maggots are literally being eaten alive, and can die from tissue destruction.

Flystrike is more of a risk for chickens living in tropical or subtropical regions, but can occur anywhere with populations of flies. Any fly species can cause flystrike, although some species are more aggressive and cause more damage than others.

Flystrike occurs very quickly and needs to be addressed as an emergency. This is because flies reproduce extremely fast---the eggs only require 8 to 12 hours to hatch.

Flystrike Treatment in Chickens


Treatment of flystrike requires the complete removal of all visible larvae, surgical debridement of the infested wound bed, intensive rinsing with antiseptic solutions, and consistent dressing changes on a daily basis.

Irrigation of the wound is usually necessary for lesions with holes and cavities for maggots to hide in. Care should be taken not to rupture any of the maggots during their removal. Fifteen percent chloroform in olive oil or another oil may help to immobilize the larvae and facilitate their removal. It is important that each maggot is physically removed, rather than killed outright with a topical agent. This is because any dead maggots left inside the bird can cause secondary bacterial infection.

Complications of flystrike include local destruction, invasion into deep tissues, and secondary bacterial infection.

Clinical Signs

Presence of eggs or moving insects in a wound
Necrosis of tissue
Bleeding

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Wound careClean and flush wound and mechanical or surgical removal of the maggots. Apply dressing such as silver sulfadiazine cream
AntibioticsMay be indicated to help prevent secondary infections.

Support

Prevention

  • Practice good fly control
  • Conduct daily physical exams of all flock members
  • Keep your chicken's vent clean and free of feces
  • Promptly treat any open wounds.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Chickens with feces stuck to their vent feathers (Pasty butt)
  • High fly populations
  • Chickens with missing feathers/bare patches of exposed skin
  • Chickens with open wounds or open-skin tumors such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Case Stories

Seasonality

WinterSpringSummerAutumn

Also Consider