Date of this Version
Myiasis caused by screwworms, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), is devastating to warmblooded animals and economically important to livestock producers. It is difficult to distinguish these pests, immature screwworms, from immatures of other non-pest fly species that often occur in animal wounds; it would be helpful to have tools available that do not rely on morphological characteristics. We developed twomonoclonal antibodies (MAbs), highly specific for the screwworm, and used them in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (MAb-ELISA), that differentiated screwworm eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults from those of the closely related secondary screwworm, C. macellaria (Fabricius) as well as Phormia regina (Meigen), Phaenicia sericata (Meigen), Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy, and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart). In a blind study, the microplate MAb-ELISA, which took about 4 h to complete, displayed high specificity (99%), sensitivity (92%) and overall accuracy (97%) in distinguishing all life stages of the screwworm. Electrophoresis results suggested that the two monoclonal antibodies recognized identical conformational epitopes present in all screwworm life stages. The screwworm eradication program, successful in eradicating this pest from the US, Mexico, most of Central America and Libya (after an accidental introduction), could benefit in future eradication, surveillance, and exclusion efforts by developing a reliable field identification kit based on MAb-ELISA that accurately and quickly distinguished cases of screwworm myiasis.