Causal Agent:

Myiasis is infection with the larval stage (maggots) of various flies. Flies in several genera may cause myiasis in humans. Dermatobia hominis is the primary human bot fly. Cochliomyia hominovorax is the primary screwworm fly in the New World and Chrysomya bezziana is the Old World screwworm. Cordylobia anthropophaga is known as the tumbu fly. Flies in the genera Cuterebra, Oestrus and Wohlfahrtia are animal parasites that also occasionally infect humans.

Life Cycle:

Myiasis lifecycle

Adults of Dermatobia hominis are free-living flies. The number 1 Adults capture blood-sucking arthropods (such as mosquitoes) and lay eggs on their bodies, using a glue-like substance for adherence. The number 2 Bot fly larvae develop within the eggs, but remain on the vector until it takes a blood meal from a mammalian or avian host. Newly-emerged bot fly larvae then penetrate the host’s tissue. The number 3 The larvae feed in a subdermal cavity The number 4 for 5-10 weeks, breathing through a hole in the host’s skin. Mature larvae drop to the ground The number 5 and pupate in the environment. Larvae tend to leave their host during the night and early morning, probably to avoid desiccation. After approximately one month, the adults emerge The number 6 to mate and repeat the cycle. Other genera of myiasis-causing flies (including Cochliomyia, Cuterebra, and Wohlfahrtia) have a more direct life cycle, where the adult flies lay their eggs directly in, or in the vicinity of, wounds on the host. The number 7 In Cochliomyia and Wohlfahrtia infestations, larvae feed in the host for about a week, and may migrate from the subdermis to other tissues in the body, often causing extreme damage in the process.

Life cycle image and information courtesy of DPDx.

Page last reviewed: January 10, 2013