Can Biting Flies Cause Anthrax?

Anthrax is an ancient disease in livestock and one of the many diseases that can be spread by biting flies. Anthrax is caused by a single group of bacteria – Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria that causes anthrax does so by forming spores, which are then transferred from one infected animal to the next. The mechanisms by which the spore is transferred can range from wind to biological weapons. In the case of insects, there are a few that are capable of carrying the spores and the population of biting flies is one of those groups of arthropods that cause the spread of anthrax.

How Anthrax is Spread

Anthrax occurs in three forms – respiratory, gastrointestinal, and blood-borne. In the case of biting flies, it is the direct transmission from an infected animal to the fly to the next animal that the fly bites. Biting flies, as we know too well, cause a vicious wound. If they have bitten an infected herbivore – deer, elk, cow, bison, etc. – and then they feed on another that is not infected, they can and do transfer the bacteria to the new victim.

Many cattle and grazers contract anthrax by eating it. As mentioned the bacteria when not active forms spores. when the rains come and water pools, the anthrax spores float. When the water resides and smaller puddles form, the spores become super concentrated and then eventually they lay on the ground until the grass grows and the grazers come. They can breathe it or eat it or in the case of bison, they can roll in it and acquire it is the spores enter a wound.

When it comes to humans and anthrax, biting flies and tick bites are a prime source. We can also acquire the disease by breathing in the spores or ingesting them in water that is not treated. If we have a wound and the spores come into contact with the wound, we can catch anthrax that way too. A small bite or cut is enough of a break in our skin to allow the bacteria to enter our bloodstream.

Oddly, many animals that scavenge a meal from a dead animal that has anthrax do not catch the disease. However the cycle there is part of the way in which anthrax spread. The spores pass through the carnivore and then lay dormant in their feces until the rains come and the migration of spores continues.

Can you stop biting flies?

Biting flies are difficult to control unless you have a sophisticated bait and trap such as the Fly Cage, which turns the biting flies natural tendencies into their downfall. In short, the flies fly in but they do not fly out as they are trapped by their own behavior. This level of fly trap is an efficient way to remove biting flies from the anthrax circle. Even without the threat of anthrax, the Fly Cage is a positive way to reduce the stress of biting flies on your community, livestock, and family.