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  • Dr. Jan Lodewyk de Klerk

Mango flies and your pet

Mango flies are a problem in the northern parts of South Africa, mainly north of the Magaliesburg mountains due to the warm and moist environment. We have however had a few cases lately at our practice so we feel it is important to share this condition.

Pretoria has had a lot of rain this summer, coupled with very warm temperatures and this has resulted in the Mango flies spreading south of the Magalies.

The fly is the size of a normal house fly and has a light brown appearance.

Female mango flies lay their eggs in soil contaminated with feces or urine or on damp clothing or bed linens. Damp clothing hanging to dry makes for a perfect spot. They are also attracted to the beds and bedding of pets (especially dogs and cats) due to the smell and occasional moistness. The larvae hatch in 2–3 days and attach to unbroken skin. They then burrow into the skin and start growing for 8-12 days, after which they leave the skin. The larvae then pupate in the soil to become adults and the life cycle starts again.

Signs seen in affected patients start as a tiny swelling in the skin. The swelling then increases in size, becomes very painful and has a little scab or opening on the top. Occasionally, small amounts of fluid containing blood and yellow waste products may ooze from the swelling and the worm can sometimes be visualized inside the swelling.

Treatment requires the worm to be removed from the skin. This can sometimes be achieved by gently squeezing the skin around the worm in order to express it from the wound.

Be careful as this can be very painful for the pet and is not always effective. If the worm can’t be removed in this manner, or there are too many in the skin, then it is best to take your pet to a vet for assistance. Occasionally the pet will need to be sedated in order to remove all the worms effectively and with as little pain as possible.

Patients should be monitored for additional and subsequent lesions, as some larvae may take longer to reach the pre-pupal stage. Antiseptics or antibiotics may be useful to prevent bacterial infection after removal of the larvae, but are not always necessary. As a rule, the wound may be expected to heal readily.

It is important to wash all of your pet's bedding and clothes and make sure that they are ironed or tumble dried, as this kills the larval stages.

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