Warbles are the larvae of the bot, cutereba, which is a very large fly with feelers and utterly disgusting. It does not bite or sting, but invades a host, which can include horses, dogs, cats, and yes, even humans. They are most commonly found in rabbits or burrowing animals, but the bot is opportunistic and will deposit her eggs in any animal . The eggs turn into larvae, or warbles, which are easily visible. It takes a number of weeks for the process, and the animal may develop an ulceration and an abscess underneath.
I found a sweet little cat one hot day at the hospital, and he had a puncture mark, most likely a bite from another cat. The tech said it might be a warble, but it wasn’t—nothing was visible, and the sore healed nicely from treatment. It was the first I had heard of warbles, although I know of bots, which can be problematic in hroses. Usually, cats and dogs are not attacked, but it can happen, and it needs attention. It may take the larvae 20 days up to 60 to turn into pupae. Usually, you see a lump with a hole at one end—that is the breathing hole for the larva. Some people put alcohol on it or Vaseline, which smothers the larvae, but you do not want it staying in the body.
If you see pupae emerging, do not squeeze the area, as it may burst or burrow back down into the body. It is really critical that you don’t as it will cause even more infection. Pieces of it may remain in your animal. They can cause sores a quarter inch in diameter, and underneath the open sore may be a hardened abscess which will suppurate.
If your dog or cat is afflicted, it needs treated by a veterinarian. The vet can determine if the wound is a warble or simply an infection. Either way, the animal needs antibiotics. Some people who prefer a natural method use black walnut hull ground fine. I like a natural method for some things, but for this—seek veterinarian assistance.
They can spread to you or your family if there is an open wound. Since there is no sting, like a horsefly, you don’t know it’s there until the dreadful wound.
Chances of your cat or dog being invaded by a bot are not great, but they might ingest the eggs which migrate throughout the body or while running through areas where bots live, pick it around their legs.
Again, I emphasize that this needs a veterinarian’s attention. It’s not likely to happen, but you need to know what you are dealing with if it does.
Submitted by Gay Fifer, Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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