It is a well-known fact there is always an elevated risk of blowfly strike in sheep throughout the summer months, however the whole of the UK is currently in a state of high or severe risk.
Dr Richard Wall, professor at the University of Bristol says: “The onset of rain over the second half of July and into August is now likely to elevate the risk of strike rapidly, particularly if this rain is heavy and persistent. If however, the rain is intermittent and dry weather returns, this will help to keep the strike risk relatively moderate in most regions.”
In the UK the primary cause of fly strike is the green bottle fly, Lucilia. The female fly seeks decomposing matter to lay its eggs and are attracted by anything with a pungent odour, for example, carcasses, dirty back ends, foot rot lesions and open wounds.
The onset of strike can be extremely quick, the whole life cycle from egg to fly can take place in less than 10 days. Eggs hatch into the first stage of larvae within 12 hours of laying and become mature maggots within three to 10 days depending on temperature and humidity.
Maggots cause skin and muscle liquefaction and this attracts secondary flies like bluebottles. The decomposing flesh releases toxins which, along with ammonia secreted by the maggots is absorbed into the animal’s blood stream which causes systemic illness, and in some cases, death.
Fiona Hutchings, Technical vet at Elanco is urging farmers to be proactive and embrace preventative treatments rather than risking a negative impact on productivity and profit.
Keep up to date with the latest news on fly-strike with NADIS' 'Blowfly Alert'