Freaky Tropical Parisites

November 6, 2008

The Sahel can be a very harsh place for animals. Living there, I came to really appreciate the power of a little hard frost from time-to-time. In addition to familiar parasites like roundworms, tapeworms and heartworms there are other-worldly parasites that can give you nightmares.

In particular, I’m thinking of “tumbu” worm. This thing is actually not a worm at all but rather a general term for bot fly. These flies lay their eggs on an animal (or clothes) and the maggot burrows into the skin where it takes up residence until it matures into an adult fly which crawls out of the skin. Ugh.

Botfly are common all along the Niger, Gambia and Senegal river basins, particularly after the rains come. Most sheep, goats, cattle, dogs and even people have these maggots crawling in their skins.

It turns out that Ivermectin, which is marketed as Heartguard, is totally effective against botfly. If you are living in an area where botfly is endemic, regular doses of Ivermectin will prevent your dog from being infected.  In part because we were careful where we hung our laundry and also because we gave our dog Ivermectin (labelled for cattle), I never had to extract any maggots from anyone in my household.

I have extracted the damn things from dogs and people, though. It’s enough to give you nightmares.

Think Aliens.

The video below was shot in Costa Rica, but the horror is the same.

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