Florida scientists discover five more reasons for fly control

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Many people just waft away a fly and carry on eating but they really ought to be more careful, according to new research from the University of Florida and Orkin Pest Control.

If you are looking for evidence to convince your customers that house fliesreally do need to be controlled then look no further than this new researchstudy. Researchers from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida (UF) havedocumented five more bacteria species carried by house flies; and all of themcause illness in humans, ranging from food poisoning to respiratory infections.

Flies were collected near waste bins at four restaurants in Gainesville. Whenthey were analysed in the campus laboratory using fatty acid analysis and DNAsequencing a total of 11 pathogens were identified. Fiveof these -Acinetobacter baumanni ,Bacillus pumilus ,Cronobacter sakazakii ,Methylobacterium persicinum andStaphylococcus sciuri had never been linkedpreviously to house flies.

UF’s Jerry Butler, a retired entomology professor who led the research team, said: “People need to know that there’s a reason for health requirements in restaurants. Whilst most people have a good immune response, there are those who are susceptible.”


UF flies University of Florida entomologists Jerry Butler, left, and Jim Maruniak who
co-authored the study

These groups include babies and small children, older people and people whose immune systems are compromised by illness or chemotherapy.” 

Until this study, house flies were known to carry some 200 bacteria. But both Butler and researcher Jim Maruniak, a UF associate professor of insect pathology, said they expect additional research would turn up even more.

House flies’ feeding preferences for decaying matter are at the root of theproblem. This is compounded by the way that they must liquefy foodby placing spongy mouthparts on the food source and secreting saliva or regurgitated gut contents onto it, beforeingesting it.The pathogens that can hurt humans are spread by flies through thefood-liquefying process, or by defecation.

Frank Meek is the international technical and training director for Orkin, whofunded the research. He said: “Research shows that the housefly carriespotentially twice as many pathogens as a cockroach. We think it’s important toeducate our customers and the public about the health risks pests can pose.”

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