YEMEN: Struggling to combat maggot attacks
Myiaisis has affected thousands of animals
SANAA, 31 March 2008 (IRIN) - Myiasis, the infestation of human or animal tissue with fly larvae (maggots), is spreading fast among livestock: The government cannot control it due to lack of funds, according to officials at the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture’s General Department for Animal Resources (GDAR).
The disease, which first appeared in December 2007
, has now been detected in the governorates of Saada, al-Hudeidah, Hajjah and al-Mahwit.
Ghaleb al-Eryani, GDAR's director-general, told IRIN on 30 March that his department lacked the funds to fight the disease and as a result, surveillance and field teams had been unable to continue their work.
"The allowances of field teams have not been paid and they will stop working as of 31 March," he said, warning of a disaster should the situation remain unresolved.
Al-Eryani said his department submitted an emergency plan requiring 750 million riyals (about US$3,750,000) to the Cabinet early this year, but the latter approved only 50 million riyals (about US$250,000). Appeal
"The approved 50 million-riyal budget has not even been paid, and we are fighting myiasis using funds allocated for veterinary campaigns in 2008," he said as he appealed to international organisations to assist Yemen in fighting the disease.
According to al-Eryani, pesticides and anti-parasite medicines should be sprayed fortnightly, but this was not happening as the field teams had run out of pesticides.
"This is the first time we have encountered such a disease and we are fighting it without experience. It is beyond the resources of Yemen," he said. Over 3,000 villages affected
According to the latest GDAR figures, the number of villages affected by myiasis was 3,413, while the number of affected animals cured was 16,750. The animals include goats, sheep, cattle, camels and donkeys. Some 464 animals have died of the disease.
Some 16,795 barns have been sprayed since the outbreak of the disease. There are 42 field teams in the five infected governorates but those operating in Saada have stopped working since 14 March for lack of funds, according to GDAR.
According to GDAR, Yemen has 15 million sheep, 1.4 million cattle and 250,000 camels.
Myiasis is caused by screwworm or 'New World' - a species of parasite fly whose maggots eat the living tissue of warm-blooded animals, including humans.
Khaled Saeed, in charge of surveillance in al-Hudeidah Governorate, told IRIN a child was recently infected with myiasis in the governorate. Eight people have contracted the disease since December 2007. No one has died.
Saeed said the productivity of infected animals decreases, as they recover very slowly. He added that another consequence of the disease was rising meat prices. Field workers at risk
Saif al-Bahri, a field surveillance officer at GDAR, said field workers were at increasing risk from the anti-myiasis pesticides as they are not provided with safety equipment. “They are at risk of nasal sinus inflammation, skin eruption, and asthma. Some of the field workers have been infected," he said.
The disease is curable. Al-Bahri said “It is cured normally through removing the maggots and antibiotics. The period of treatment ranges between one and two weeks. If the infected person is left without any treatment, the disease might kill him."
Al-Bahri further said the beginning of summer and the rainy season presented an opportunity for myiasis to spread rapidly. "If myiasis infects monkeys, it will be difficult to control… as it is difficult to control these animals. There are a lot of monkeys in the mountains," he told IRIN, adding that many dogs in some of al-Hudeidah's districts had been infected.