Government steps up efforts to curb myiasis infestation [Archives:2008/1131/Local News]

February 21 2008

SANA'A, Feb. 20 ) Yemen's Ministry of Public Health & Population (MPHP) authorized epidemic surveillance teams in Sa'ada and Hajjah governorates to conduct field visits to the areas where animals are infected with myiasis, according to an announcement made by the General Livestock Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI).

Abdulhakim Al-Kuhlani, MAI's Manager of Disease and Epidemic Surveillance, told the Yemen News Agency that the surveillance teams would conduct field visits in response to a MAI report saying that five people are infected with myiasis.

According to Al-Kuhlani, the teams are also mandated to spread awareness among citizens of the plagued areas about preventive measures to curb proliferation of the disease. He also recommended that citizens notify the surveillance teams and any nearby health units of any infected cases as soon as they are discovered.

Government officials and specialized doctors assured citizens in the infected areas that the disease isn't fatal and can be easily treated.

Majed Al-Juneid, MPHP Preliminary Healthcare Sector Undersecretary, noted, “In case three or even five human cases are found infected with myiasis, this doesn't necessarily mean that people should consider it an epidemic. A glance at the list of epidemics, which citizens have to remain aware of, will reveal that myiasis is not included in the list, nor is it an epidemic at all.”

“Our duty is to assure people about the easy treatment of the disease and not to shift our attention from the real health problems that put people's lives at risk,” Al-Junaid went on to say.

He confirmed that the disease primarily infects animals, while poor health conditions and personal hygiene are the primary reasons for the infection. “Cleanliness is the first preventative measure to ensure non-infestation of myiasis, which spreads via flies or larva,” he elaborated.

The government reviewed on Tuesday a report presented by both relevant ministries on the proliferation of myiasis in Sa'ada and Hajjah. The report revealed that poor hygiene is responsible for fly and larva proliferation, thereby helping transmit the disease. During a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar, senior health officials reviewed the necessary measures to cure the infected cases.

What is 'myiasis'?

According to, Myiasis is an animal or human disease caused by parasitic dipterous fly larva feeding on the host's dead or living tissue. Colloquialisms for Myiasis include “fly-strike” and “fly-blown”.

Blowfly strike, known as myiasis, is a common disease in sheep, especially in areas where there are hot and wet conditions. The female flies lay their eggs on the sheep in damp, protected areas soiled with urine and feces, mainly on the breech.

According to senior health officials, myiasis can be treated first by eliminating the larva through pressure around the lesion and then the use of forceps. Secondly, the wound must be cleaned and disinfected, while further control is necessary to avoid further reinfection. They added that it is possible to treat livestock with the use of slow release of boluses containing ivermectin, which provides long-term protection against larva development.