Mango worms come by many names, its scientific name is Cordylobia anthropophaga and also known with these names, Tumba fly, Tumbu fly. Skin maggot, or putzi fly. It is a species of a fly that is called “blow fly”, you can find it in areas East and Central Africa.
(Mango worms are not related to mango trees)
what are Mango worms?
Mango worms is a parasite that invades bodies of their hosts and they are normally mammals.
Please note When we say mammals, this includes humans as well.
Mango worms or anthropophaga which means in Greek “Human eater” has been endemic for such long time almost about 135 years in the subtropics of Africa and it is one of the reasons for humans to get infected with myiasis.
Myiasis symptoms and types
The type of the myiasis depends on the larvae and which place it chose to be in. some live in the dead bodies, some enter from ears, nose, and stomach. While most common is through open wounds or unbroken skin.
There are four types of myiasis:
Opthalmomyiasis: this causes pain, edema and severe irritation.
Cutaneous myiasis: it is a very painful form and causes ulcers that last for a long period of time.
Aural myiasis: in this type of myiasis real danger is lurking for the larvae if is present in the middle ear it could reach the brain.
Nasal myiasis: close of nasal passages, strong irritation, edema, and fever.
Wound myiasis: could occur when the larvae lay eggs on the open wound and this has happened in areas of poor medical conditions, poverty, neglect, mental illness, and diabetes.
Where do mango worms live?
Mango worms were discovered in Senegal back in 1862, and as we said above they tend to exist in the east and central Africa, but now due to air travel or any form of travel the spread of the mango worms fly is now easier than before so you can expect it anywhere in the world.
The life cycle of mango worms
The female fly can lay from 100-300 eggs in one time in sandy soil which usually contaminated with feces and wastes. The eggs hatch into larvae that could stay in the soil for 9-15 days until it finds a host to continue developing.
when it finds the host it digs into the skin of the host and lives under the skin, feeding on the fats and the blood of the host. The host as we said before could be any mammal, dogs, cats, sheep, horses, mice, monkeys, squirrels, rabbits, pigs, antelopes, mongooses, goats, chicken and even humans.
When the larvae reach the prepupal stage it gets out from the body of the host and bury itself again in the sand and start the cycle all over again.
The fly identification features are, yellow face and legs, it is 9.5 mm long, the color light brown. It is hard to identify the adult flies unless we extracted them and reared from larvae that are extracted from the host.
The adult fly feeds on the plants’ juices like pineapples and bananas and decomposing animal tissues.
Can mango worm kill the host?
No worries, because there are no records have stated that mango worms killed a host before but they could be fatal if not cured. they cause lots and lots of pain to the host. It is an endemic parasite and can be cured.
How to prevent mango worms?
We have mentioned that the larvae could penetrate the skin of the host and live beneath it. There are many circumstances that lead to infection with mango worms.
First, the sand litter of the cat or dog whether it is clean or dirty is exposed to the dangerous eggs of the flies.
Any soil that dirty or contaminated with feces and urine.
The clothes of the people coming from infection places could transfer the larvae from one place to another new place in the world. Researches found that the larvae become fixed to some areas in the clothes.
Mice and dogs are a reservoir host for mango worm larvae.
Children have thin skin compared to adults so they are more exposed to the hazard of infestation.
The infestation with mango worms in humans could be noticed in the covered part of the body like the buttocks, waist, armpits, and legs.
To prevent and control mango worms in both animals and humans follow the instructions below:
- Kill any adult fly found indoors
- The larvae should be removed from the skin of the infected animal.
- All the rats that could be a good reservoir of the larvae should be killed and burned too.
- Don’t keep your clothes out for a long time and make sure you iron them before wearing them because there might be eggs on it. Or you could wait 48 hours before wearing the clothes after they dry because the lifespan of the eggs won’t last that long. Never leave your clothes on the ground or bed sheets and towels.
- Keep the place around you and your animal always clean.
- The litter boxes of the cats shouldn’t have accumulated feces because they are endemic for the maggot fly.
How to treat mango worms?
How to treat mango worms in animals?
The larvae are killed by suffocation, we cover the place they live under with Vaseline to prevent oxygen and then squeeze the worm which pops up, we should be careful to prevent the infection of the wound and follow with a course of antibiotics.
here’s a video of mango worms extracted from dog’s skin.
Warning: This video contains graphic material that is not suitable for all ages
How to treat mango worms in humans?
We follow the same instructions by applying petroleum jelly or liquid paraffin to prevent the air from the larvae and wait for 30 minutes or one hour and pop it up by our fingers, but if this method didn’t help in getting rid of such parasite, a surgeon might be needed and apply Anastasia on the infected area then cut the place and remove the larvae.
My advice for you is to always be aware that the environment around you have many invisible pathogens that could cause you one hell of a pain, so always keep surroundings clean, personal hygiene, good life practices, never walk barefoot in any soil because it might be the medium to such a parasite “human eater”.
When traveling make sure that you are informed with the medical issued involved in this country and what are the safety measures to be followed to avoid the hazards of being infected with a disease or getting infestation.