Viral Botfly Post on Facebook is Nightmarishly Scary But Should We Really Be Worried in Louisiana?
Have you seen that viral Facebook post about botflies that everyone has been sharing too?
It’s a very scary warning about an insect that has reportedly made its way into the United States, but before we get into those alleged details let’s talk about what a botfly is.
When it comes to parasitic insects, the botfly is a particularly intriguing and unique creature. Native to various regions around the world, bot flies belong to the family Oestridae and are known for their parasitic lifestyle.
Bot flies are large, hairy flies that lay their eggs on the bodies of mammals, including humans. The eggs hatch into larvae, which burrow into the host's skin to complete their development. These larvae, commonly referred to as bots, require a warm environment to grow and therefore target tropical and subtropical areas.
Fair warning: the video below is very educational, but also very gross. You don't have to watch it.
This is why bot flies are found in many parts of Central and South America, as well as regions of Africa and Southeast Asia. They are known to parasitize a wide range of animals, including cattle, rodents, and even monkeys. While we have our fair share of insects in the United States, botflies are not among them.
Now, before I get into this next part, keep in mind that my word is no more or less credible than the person who created the viral post that is scaring folks into sharing it with their followers on Facebook.
But what I can tell you about the following information is that they are facts sourced from people who literally do this for a living.
How many reported cases have we seen in America?
According to Click Orlando, six separate studies have documented seven reported cases of human botflies in the U.S. since 1999. In every single case, the patients had recently been to Central or South America.
While this doesn’t prove it’s impossible for human infection to happen in America, statistics show that it is extremely rare. According to a study from Oregon State, to become infected, a botfly in adult form would have to lay eggs “in or near a wound.”
What if you’re the rare case? How do you know if you have one?
Remember when I told you that there are scientists who dedicate their lives to this type of research and information? Luckily, they’ve done enough of it to give you a pretty good description of what it would look and feel like if you were the (un)lucky host of a botfly.
The typical lesion associated with botfly myiasis is an erythematous, raised, furuncle-like lesion with central necrosis most commonly affecting the limbs . Common symptoms associated with the skin lesions include itching, sensation of moving, and occasional lancinating pain .
I don't know about you, but my skin is literally crawling after reading what I just wrote, so it's understandable why we may freak out when reading posts like the one being shared widely by Kay Miller.
I especially get why I've seen it every single time I've refreshed my newsfeed from my fellow Louisianans who are used to seeing bugs, insects, and unidentified bugs that fly all around us—especially as temperatures begin to heat up.
But that's the lowdown on botflies according to science and the statistics we've seen over the last few decades.
Of course, if you're experiencing weird symptoms and things don't feel right, never hesitate to consult your physician or a medical professional—not your local radio DJ or a random person you've never met from Facebook.