House fly: Neglected Disease Vector

House fly (Musca domestica) is the pest mostly prevalent in the uncleaned areas. It is notorious for spreading diseases and they are important for medical, veterinary and public health perspective.

By Muhammad Zeeshan1*, Muhammad Sohail Sajid1,­Muhammad Imran1

Their synanthropic nature declared them potential pest for dispersing diseases from man to man and zoonotic (animals to humans). These are associated in more than hundreds of animal diseases; involved in protozoan, bacterial, viral and helminthic infections. Intestinal diseases outbreaks are commonly due to contamination of feed by house fly. Rural areas are more contaminated than urban areas. Their control declines the average outbreaks. Recent reports revealed about its effect on poultry industry that it is potential carrier of avian influenza (bird flu virus). First time this disease was reported in 1995 in Pakistan and later on various outbreaks reported in various areas. Intensive animal farming system along high temperature, humidity, low sanitation and manure quantity provides perfect environment for rapid production and expansion of house fly population. This expansion enables future outbreaks.  Public health is affected in those areas that have poor sanitation and low hygienic conditions. Developing countries are mostly affected due to its outbreak as Pakistan is a developing country and less priority has been given to the sanitation and hygienic measures. Rural areas are mostly uncleaned this is also a truth that most of Pakistan’s urban areas lack sanitation. Karachi is one of example of those urban cities. Recent enormous rain falls and sacrificial animals’ left over primarily increase the outbreak. As rain fall reduced sanitation and created mess of garbage and dumb throughout the city. Flies are attractive to garbage and dumb. Their behavior of reproduction on uncleaned places enhanced its production everywhere. Thick blanket of flies hover over the fruits, meat and other food items. But vendors and shopkeepers did not bother to cover the food items and use precautionary measures to reduce disease risk. Provisional government also have not taken any strong decision to clean Karachi pushing Karachi’s population to various diseases risks. House fly causes diarrhea by contaminating food and diarrhea is considered as leading cause of childhood death in various areas of Pakistan. Pakistan is an agricultural country and more than 21% of its GDP depends on agriculture. Agriculture includes both the crops production and livestock. Livestock share 11% of total GDP while it shares more than 50% in agriculture. Livestock sector consists of farming. Although dairy farming is playing a pivotal role in economy of Pakistan by the production of milk, meat, wool, hide, blood, bones and animal manure but the bitter truth is that they are also playing a significant role in flies’ production due to their poor sanitation in various forms such as manures etc. Open defecation places and poor disposal are potential for the production of house flies. They have the worst habit to hover over food and people’s faces. Their behavior is itself frustrating. Nevertheless, they carry bacteria and viruses. WHO reported that the fly spreads more than 65 diseases. They are carrier of various diarrheal disease, eyes and skin infections. Unlike other biting insects such as mosquito they are not biting insects and rather than direct vectors they are indirect vectors of some diseases. Most common diseases spread through house flies are conjunctivitis, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis, salmonellosis, typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery. Their feeding and breeding behavior enables the transmission of diseases. They often feed on rotted matter and animal or human faeces. As they feast upon on an item/food infected with bacteria they acquire the pathogen and store into esophagus/digestive tract, as they have the habit of regurgitation of their stomach contents on solid objects to liquefy them and in this instant any bacteria living in digestive tract transmitted to that new item. Similarly, their defecate is source of pathogen transmission. Transmission also can be due to contaminated cooking utensils, cutlery and utensils used in eating food. People can also catch the disease while touching the infected food and then touching eyes and wounds. To date, there are minute surveys and less research has been conducted on house flies.

Prevention

  • Food should be covered and placed in hygienic environment and remove the harmful bacteria which have potential to cause disease.
  • Put raw ingredients in hygienic matter (airtight containers).
  • Wash the utensils before use. Both types of cooking and eating utensils should be kept in high hygiene and this phenomenon helps to eliminate and reduce bacteria risk as flies are not attractive to cleaned and sanitized utensils.
  • Animal sheds, garbage and excrement are common breeding sites for house flies where flies accumulate the pathogens associated with diseases caused by house flies. These areas should be eliminated in order to reduce the high risk of house flies’ potential diseases.
  • Animal sheds, pens and stables have proper sanitation and fly prevention methods in order to reduce risk of flies. Fly screens should be installed and necessary thing is to clean the area.
  • There should be a proper waste management system that ensures the waste units are not overfilled and there is regular eymptisation of waste units. Bins must have tight lid over all the times and cleanliness of waste units.
  • Installation of latrines rather than open defecation areas will help out to reduce the risk of house fly.
  • Washrooms should be regularly cleaned. Pipes should run smoothly to reduce overflow.
  • Fly screens can be installed over ventilation covers that reduces the risk of house flies by not allowing to enter them.
  • In case of livestock, dung/faecal material should be stacked that it should reduce the surface area for exposure of house flies. Then cover the stacked dung with plastic sheets or other fly proof material.
  • There should be awareness programs at social level.
  • The risk of house flies exposure will be reduced by educating the people as educated people know the risk associated with house fly and they use hygienic measure.
  • Cleanliness is part of Faith (Islamic Ideology). One should clean his/her house and surrounding areas.
  • Except of throwing garbage and dumb into open places use dustbins.

Authors :

Muhammad Zeeshan1*, Muhammad Sohail Sajid1,­Muhammad Imran1

1Department of Parasitology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

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