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Why you should watch out for flying vomit

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New research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst on “synanthropic” flies — or the non-biting flies that live with us — argues that we need to pay much more attention to them as disease carriers. While epidemiologists have turned their attention to the biting flies that can spread disease by transferring infected blood from host to host, it turns out that what the non-biting flies shed is a much greater risk to human health.

“I’ve been working on synanthropic flies since I was a graduate student in the 1960s,” said John Stoffolano, professor of entomology at UMass Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture and the author of a new paper recently published in the journal. insects. “And synanthropic flies have been largely ignored. Blood-feeding flies have come into the spotlight, but we need to pay attention to those who live among us because they get their nutrients from humans and animals that release pathogens in their tears, feces and wounds.”

To illustrate this point, consider the common housefly. Over the course of the day, buzzing in and out of your house, he can feast on a variety of foods: roadkill, animal poop, rotting garbage, and quick trips to the sewer buffet. Every time it feeds, it fills its crop.

“The crop is like a gas tank,” says Stoffolano, “a place to store food before it enters the digestive tract, where it is converted into energy for the fly.” Because the crop is a place for storage – not for digestion – there are very few digestive enzymes or antimicrobial peptides, both of which would neutralize most pathogens, at work. And so the crop inadvertently also becomes a storage place for pathogens.

As the fly then takes off, filling the crop with, say, fresh dog feces left on the sidewalk, it removes excess water in its crop by “bubbling” or regurgitating the water, misting whatever it comes in contact with. . Let’s say that same fly comes in through your window and lands on the sandwich you’re making. Before helping himself to a bite of your grinder, he vomits some of what’s left in his crop onto your bread. Together with the crop content, all pathogenic pathogens that flies happen to ingest earlier.

Getting worse. Because a fly’s crop is one of the cauldrons where microbes develop antibacterial resistance, what is spat on your food may not respond well to conventional treatments.

And yet we still don’t know much about the basics of these flies, as Stoffolano points out. For example, how robust are the immune systems of different synanthropic flies? Do the flies breed and encourage the growth of harmful pathogens in their guts, or do they simply carry disease from one place to another? Are female or male flies better carriers of pathogens? How do the crop volumes differ per species?

“It’s the little things that cause the problems,” says Stoffolano. “Our health depends on paying more attention to these flies that live with us.”


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More information:
John G. Stoffolano, Synanthropic Flies-A Review including how they obtain nutrients along with pathogens, store them in the crop and transmission mechanisms, insects (2022). DOI: 10.3390/insects13090776

Provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst

Quote: Why you should watch out for fly vomit (2022, September 19) retrieved September 19, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-attention-vomit.html

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