Dermatobia hominis



Dermatobia hominis has many unique interactions between various species, which primarily include other flies, cattle, dogs and humans. The larval stages of Dermatobia hominis are parasitic and present major economic and health concerns.

The most important species interaction for the botfly is with other flies. The female botfly doesn’t lay eggs directly on a host’s skin but rather relies on other flies to act as a vector. More than 50 different species have been identified as vectors for D. hominis (Zuluaga, 2011). The mode in which the adult botfly transmits the eggs is through catching the vector and adhering eggs to their body. This mode of transportation of eggs is referred to as phoresis. The eggs that are dropped off by the vector are very heat sensitive and are activated once in contact with the host’s skin (Thanapatcharoen, 2012).
It is through the process of phoresis that Dermatobia hominis is disseminated because of that there is a wide range of potential hosts for the parasitic larvae.

One of the most documented and researched host of the Dermatobia hominis is cattle (Villarino, 2003). The reason being is that once infested the cattle has been shown to have decrease in weight and milk production. Another impact to cattle is damage to the skin which reduces the amount and quality of leather that can be produced. The larvae are most often found on cattle in areas that are valuable in leather production- the skin can be 70 percent less useful for leather production . The estimated economic impact caused by Dermatobia hominis infestation in Brazil alone is $250 million per year (Zuluaga, 2011).

Dermatobia hominis is unique in the aspect that it is one of a few species of flies that parasitize and live on humans. The infestation of D. hominis appears as a swollen boil that may initially be confused as a mosquito bite. While inside the skin the larva releases various substances which act as an irritant to prevent healing, this is done to prevent closure of infestation site to main gas exchange (Lello and Rosis, 2003). Symptoms of infestation appear as itching, irritation, and pain.  Other than discomfort D. hominis is relatively harmless to humans although problems may arise if the larva is inadequately removed (Baangsgard, 2000). When burrowed in the skin the larva does not respond to antibiotics. Traditional methods of larva extraction are performed by occluding the opening with some sort of substance usually petroleum jelly, oils, and fats. The closure of the opening causes the larva to suffocate forcing it out of the skin, while exposed the larva can be forced out by pressure or by forcep extraction. This method isn’t always effective due to the anchoring of the larva to the skin and the possibility of breaking the larva is present. Another method of extraction is through a surgical procedure, this often times is effective but is expensive and isn’t always readily available. The most effective extraction process is through using a venom extractor, which can remove the larva completely. This option is an effective and inexpensive option of larva removal (Boggild, et al., 2002).


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