Are Flies Bad For Your Health?

Flies are known to transmit over 65 different diseases. They can damage your skin and, in extreme cases, they can even cause brain damage.

Flies can be bad for your health, they spread diseases such as Cholera, Tuberculosis, Gastroenteritis, Typhoid fever, and more. They’re connected to many skin and eye infections as well. Flies can also cause Myiasis; this is a parasitic infection whereby fly larvae grow and feed inside your body.

At this point, you might be running for a can of fly spray to fumigate your house. Before you do, let’s look at all these health issues and also talk about how likely a fly is to infect you with them.

Can You Get Sick From House Flies?

It’s possible, but not common to get sick from house flies. It also depends on where they land, on food, your skin, lips, or open wound perhaps? Besides the chance of the fly spreading bacteria from feces and rotten meat, it’s possible for it to lay eggs under your skin and cause some serious damage.

What if a fly lands on your food?

It’s possible for a fly to transport bacteria from feces and rotten food to your food. However, the chances that you’ll get sick from one or two flies landing on your food are extremely low. It’s possible to suffer from illnesses such as diarrhea if there are many flies crawling over your meal because of how much more bacteria there’ll be.

You may have also heard about flies vomiting on your food and then sucking it back up to eat. While this sounds disgusting, the saliva a fly spits out to liquify and suck up your food is not what’s harmful to your health. Only the bacteria they carry and the larvae they can lay are harmful to your body.

If you have food in an area where flies are present, cover it with a thin cloth to prevent contamination. Store all your kitchen utensils behind closed doors and clean your cooking area well before you handle any food.

What if a fly lands on your skin?

When a fly lands on your skin, it usually doesn’t get a chance to do much of anything because you’ll typically shoo it away very quickly. But let’s say you’re sleeping and a fly has “open range” on your skin.

As in the case with a fly landing on your food, a couple of flies landing on your skin aren’t going to transfer enough bacteria to make you sick. Again, the more flies there are dropping off their bacteria, the higher the chance of getting sick.

If you have a fly problem in your area, you should sleep with a fly net around your bed. Flies can be kept off your skin during the day by wearing clothes that cover your entire body.

Unfortunately, flies are more common in hot weather, so this type of clothing might not be the most comfortable way of keeping them off.

What if a fly lands on a wound?

If you have an open wound, flies can lay eggs inside of it which later turns into maggots.  Although maggots eat mostly dead tissue and can clean up wounds very well, precaution should be given to prevent this from occurring. 

Although Maggot therapy can be used in a specialist area of wound management, it is performed using sterile maggots and not those in the wild. Maggots that have naturally appeared in your wound can increase your risk of infection and complications.  

The best way to prevent this from happening is by covering any open wounds on your body. If you scratched or cut yourself, either put a band-aid on or make sure the wound is covered by clothing.

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What Is Myiasis?

Myiasis is caused by flies depositing eggs, usually in open wounds, into a live body. This develops into fly larvae (maggots), that feed off the host’s tissue. Here are a few different forms of Myiasis.

Cutaneous Myiasis

This is one of the more commonly observed forms of Myiasis which occurs under the skin and forms a bump similar to that of a boil or large pimple.

Nasal Myiasis

This is when the nasal passages get obstructed by the fly larvae and can cause swelling and a fever. Some instances of nasal Myiasis can lead to death for the host.

Aural Myiasis

This is an infestation of the ear, if the middle ear is infected, larvae might make its way to the brain, cause inflammation, and lead to death. This is more commonly seen in patients that have physical or mental disabilities because they can’t deter the fly the way other people can.

Ophthalmomyiasis

A larval infestation of the eye, more specifically, the external ocular structures, conjunctiva, and cornea. Just like with the other forms of Myiasis above, you will need a medical professional to remove the parasites from your body very carefully.

What To Do If You’ve Swallowed A Fly

Don’t be alarmed, there are thousands of flies being accidentally swallowed and even inhaled every day. Once again, one fly usually doesn’t have enough bacteria packed on it to make you really sick just by swallowing it. You might suffer from an upset stomach at worst.

If you accidentally inhale a fly, you’ll normally be able to cough it up quickly enough to avoid any damage. If the fly goes really deep into your lungs, it may cause inflammation leading to aspiration pneumonia. This is a serious condition and you will need proper medical attention to manage it.

Why Do Flies Exist?

Flies are actually one of the best pollinators on the planet, second only to bees. They also consume rotting meat and other vegetation and therefore do a fair amount of cleaning up.

Of course, they also spread disease and damage crops. Flies are also a huge problem for livestock because animals like sheep, cows, pigs, etc, can’t effectively deter the flies like humans can with their hands.

How To Keep Flies Out Of The House

The best way to keep flies out of your house is to limit the food sources available to them. This means always keeping everything as clean as possible. Don’t leave dirty dishes lying in the sink. Make sure you use a garbage container with a lid that seals well.

Keeping your yard clean from animal feces will also go a long way in keeping flies to a minimum in your area. Flies can lay up to 150 eggs at a time that can hatch within 24 hours. If you have a fly problem, cleaning your yard daily can drastically reduce the number of flies that get into your house.

Stop them before they enter the house by using fly screens on your windows.

Certain plants like mint, lavender, basil, and lemongrass deter flies with the scent they give off. You can use pots to grow these plants inside your home. If you have these plants growing outside, you can chop some up and put them in a bowl on your desk for the aroma to fill the room.

If you don’t have any of these plants freshly available, you can buy oils made from these plants at the store and mix them with water for a homemade fly repellent.

Conclusion

I hope this post answered your question to if flies are bad for your health. If you’ve got your lunch outside and come back to see flies all over it, you will probably get sick if you eat it. This is because a lot of flies equates to a lot of bacteria that could harm you.

If you have any open wound, you should cover it with a band-aid to protect it from being infected by flies.

If you think you have got a fly in your ear, nose or eyes and possibly laid eggs, it is important to seek medical attention. This will confirm any issue, and adequate treatment can be performed.

Flies are necessary for the greater scheme of things, but they don’t need to be in your home. To keep them out, keep everything in the house clean and packed away. Make sure to clean up after your animals daily as feces is a prime breeding spot for flies.

Flies can be a real pest in and out of the house. Having flies in your home environment can be hazardous to your health and getting rid of them is important. #howtogetridofflies #Flyrepellant #getridofflies #health #wound

Emilie MASI

Registered Nurse, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice Graduate Diploma of Wound Care Working towards Masters of Wound Care

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