In a follow-up on the screwworm situation in the Florida Keys, US and Florida agriculture officials report that screwworm has been detected in multiple Keys west of Big Pine and No Name Keys.

Screwworm larva/ Agricultural Research Service
Screwworm larva/ Agricultural Research Service

As of a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) update Tuesday, screwworm flies have been detected in the following areas: Big Torch Key: adult screwworm flies detected; Middle Torch Key: adult screwworm flies detected; Little Torch Key: adult screwworm flies detected; Cudjoe: adult screwworm flies detected; Ramrod: adult screwworm flies detected and Summerland, where adult screwworm flies detected and screwworm-infested Key deer observed.

To date, nearly 10 percent, or 97 cases of the Key deer population, an endangered species, has been euthanized due to screwworm infestation.

Since the National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957 and the Key deer became one of the first species protected under the Endangered Species Act, their population has climbed back up to approximately 1,000 individuals with the core population on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, according to FDACS.

This is the first local infestation in the United States in more than 30 years. On Oct. 3, 2016, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam declared an agricultural state of emergency in Monroe County, Florida.

The Department of Agriculture has implemented the following eradication efforts:

  • An Animal Health Check Point at Mile Marker 106 in Key Largo. This animal health checkpoint is a crucial part of ensuring animal health and protecting Florida from the spread of this pest. All animals are briefly checked to ensure they do not have screwworm. Early detection of screwworms can be successfully treated in pets and livestock. Eight-hundred-eighty-three animals have been checked to date, and none has been positive for screwworm;
  • The release of sterile flies, a scientifically proven method to achieve screwworm eradication, began on Tuesday, Oct. 11;
  • The USDA continues to increase production and evaluate additional sites for release;
  • Enhanced surveillance to determine the scope of the screwworm infestation; and
  • Extensive public outreach in order to engage the public in early detection of the screwworm.