by Staff writer
The mango fly or tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga) is a species of blow fly common in East, West and Central Africa.
It is a parasite of large mammals (including humans) during its larval stage.
The dog is the most common domestic host of the mango fly larvae (called mango worms) and several species of wild rats are the preferred field hosts.
Domestic fowl are dead-end hosts, as the larvae cannot develop when they enter the tissue of a fowl.
Humans are only accidental hosts because the mango fly does not particularly target humans.
But if clothes are hung outside, it is possible for a female fly to lay eggs on them, especially when the clothes were contaminated with urine or faeces.
The clothes are then worn and the eggs hatch and penetrate the skin, causing a condition known as cutaneous myiasis.
People will usually complain that their body is itching and within three days, painful, boil-like lesions occur.
Over the next three days, pus emerges from each sore as it gets ripe. Once the sore is pressed, a worm comes out of it.
According to the Natural History Museum in London, myiasis can be a debilitating and sometimes even fatal condition.
It is caused by the feeding and development of fly larvae on the host’s dead or living tissues, usually at the skin surface or in body orifices.
Treatment usually consists applying the lesion with petroleum jelly or liquid paraffin to suffocate the larva.
The application is left on for 30 minutes to an hour and then the larva should be pushed out via finger pressure.
A course of antibiotics is then followed.
How to prevent a mango worm infestation:
1. Iron all your clothes, especially underpants and bras, all baby clothes including sheets and pillow cases.
2. Use a tumble drier in the rainy season as a this really will kill all the eggs.
3. Make sure your clothes line is in direct sunlight at all times.
4. Keep the grass very short under the clothes line.
5. Fence in the clothes line so that the area around cannot be contaminated by cat and dogs.
Should you or a loved one accidentally become a host to a mango fly, don’t hesitate to visit a clinic where the worms can be extracted in the safest way possible and you are treated so that there is no infection or sepsis.