Cuterebra spp

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1st stage instar of Cuterebra spp
Adult Cuterebra spp fly

Cuterebra spp (rodent botfly) are a parasitic fly of dogs in tropical and subtropical countries.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Cuterebra emasculator[1]

The life cycle involves eggs laid near where dogs reside. Eggs hatch and first stage larvae attach to the dog coat, where they burrow into the nose, ears and eyes and feed off dermal secretions caused by the larvae migrating on the skin. In dogs, they are usually found in subcutaneous connective tissue, where they cause myiasis. In rare cases, they may migrate from the frontal sinuses into the brain[2].

Clinical signs usually are associated with larval damage to the eye[3][4], nasal passages or frontal sinuses.

Seizures associated with penetration of the skull are rare, but stupor, disorientation, blindness[5], tetraparesis[6] and circling are frequently observed with cerebral cuterebral meningitis and encephalitis[7].

Treatment involves mechanical removal of larvae and application of topical insecticides. Secondary bacterial infections with Staphylococcus spp and Streptococcus spp is common, and antimicrobial therapy is usually indicated.

Drugs such as imidacloprid, selamectin and ivermectin are usually effective preventative agents for control of this insect.


  1. Slansky F (2007) Insect/mammal associations: effects of Cuterebrid bot fly parasites on their hosts. Annu Rev Entomol 52:17-36
  2. Bowman, DD (2009) Georgis' parasitology for veterinarians. Elsevier Saunders, Missouri. pp:31-33
  3. Crumley WR et al (2011) Ophthalmomyiasis externa in a puppy due to Cuterebra infestation. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 47(6):e150-e155
  4. Rosenthal JJ (1975) Cuterebra infestation of the conjunctiva in a puppy. Vet Med Small Anim Clin 70(4):462-463
  5. Sartin EA et al (1986) Cerebral cuterebrosis in a dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc 189(10):1338-1339
  6. Hatziolos BC (1967) Cuterebra larva causing paralysis in a dog. Cornell Vet 57(1):129-145
  7. Tieber LM et al (2006) Survival of a suspected case of central nervous system cuterebrosis in a dog: clinical and magnetic resonance imaging findings. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 42(3):238-242