The Cordylobia anthropophaga, also called the Tumbu fly, or the Mango fly (despite the fact that it has nothing to do with mango trees), is a parasite that lays its eggs wherever there are dogs, cats, or human beings. Found mostly in Africa, these flies are attracted to feces and urine. The worms that hatch out of their eggs have the ability to infect even unbroken skin. They drill deep holes into their victim’s body, without the animal or human even realizing it. Till the worms grow up, the host feels nothing. These mango worms mostly affect those who live in swampy areas, with stray cats and dogs being most vulnerable.
The Touray & Meyer Vet Clinic in The Gambia, a small country in West Africa, specializes in the treatment of animals that are infected with mango worms. Some dogs are brought into the veterinary clinic, where more than 100 worms are taken out of each one of them. Usually, when an animal is infested with these maggots, the best way to remove them is by first applying some petroleum jelly on the punctures made by the worms, so that the air supply is cut off. The moment the worms come up to the surface to breathe in air, they can be picked out with forceps. Sometimes, these worms are so deeply embedded inside the skin that this method might not work too well. It is then that making an incision to widen the puncture may be necessary. The doctor of Touray & Meyer Vet Clinic says that since most people in The Gambia do not have the means to afford the usual treatment offered by hospitals, they resort to other means for dealing with this menace. They apply pressure on the affected areas to push out the worms, taking care that the maggots don’t burst. Once they are out, special attention has to be given to the patient so that the punctures left behind are allowed to heal. The dogs love eating up the maggots, but there’s nothing to worry since the acid in the animal’s stomach kills the worms. These worms and flies don’t kill you, but they still are quite gross.
Unless you are in Africa, your precious pet might not get affected by these mango worms. However, it is always good to know what first aid to administer in case of any untoward situation. If you feel it is important to have a fair idea of what to do in such cases, please spread the word.