Myiasis FAQs

What is myiasis?

Myiasis is infection with a fly larva, usually occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. There are several ways for flies to transmit their larvae to people.

  • Some flies attach their eggs to mosquitoes and wait for mosquitoes to bite people. Their larvae then enter these bites.
  • Other flies’ larvae burrow into skin. These fly larvae are known as screwworms. They can enter skin through people’s bare feet when they walk through soil containing fly eggs or attach themselves to people’s clothes and then burrow into their skin.
  • Some flies deposit their larvae on or near a wound or sore, depositing eggs in sloughing-off dead tissue.

In which countries does myiasis occur?

Myiasis occurs in tropical and subtropical areas. These can include countries in Central America, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands.

What are the signs and symptoms of infection with myiasis?

A lump will develop in tissue as the larva grows. Larvae under the skin may move on occasion. Usually larvae will remain under the skin and not travel throughout the body.

Is having myiasis common?

Myiasis is not common in the United States. Most people in the United States with myiasis got it when they traveled to tropical areas in Africa and South America. People with untreated and open wounds are more likely to get myiasis.

What should I do if I think I have myiasis?

Contact your health care provider for proper diagnosis and care.

How is myiasis treated?

The larvae need to be surgically removed by a medical professional. Typically, the wound is cleaned daily after the larvae are removed. Proper hygiene of wounds is very important when treating myiasis. Sometimes medication is given, depending on the type of larva that causes the problem.

How did I get myiasis?

You may have gotten an infection from accidentally ingesting larvae, from having an open wound or sore, or through your nose or ears. People can also be bitten by mosquitoes, ticks, or other flies that harbor larvae. In tropical areas, where the infection is most likely to occur, some flies lay their eggs on drying clothes that are hung outside.

How can I prevent infection with myiasis?

  • Take extra care going to tropical areas and spending a lot of time outside. Cover your skin to limit the area open to bites from flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Use insect repellant and follow Travelers Health guidelines.
  • In areas where myiasis is known to occur, protect yourself by using window screens and mosquito nets.
  • In tropical areas, iron any clothes that were put on the line to dry.

More on: Insect Bite Prevention

Should I be concerned about spreading infection to the rest of my household?

No. Myiasis is not spread from person to person. The only way to get myiasis is through flies, ticks, and mosquitoes.

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This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2014