A tiny little barn kitten weighing less than one pound was brought in to see Dr. Winske. He had a draining lump behind his ear that looked like it had a worm in it! After careful examination, this kitten was found to have a cuterebra, also known as warbles!
What is a cuterebra you may ask? (I know I did!) A cuterebra is a parasitic larva left by large flies that lay a nest of eggs in the soil or grass. Once hatched, the larva makes its way into your pet’s nasal passages, mouth, or through an open wound. The larvae then slink their way underneath the skin to settle in comfortably usually by the head or neck area. Cuterebra are usually found in kittens, puppies, and rabbits.
In their little home under your pet’s skin they will mature until reaching an adult fly. They create a little opening or fistula in the swelling lump to be able to breathe. What’s even more disturbing is the larva can actually be seen moving up & down through that opening. This cuterebra was definitely an active guy and could be seen wiggling all around. GROSS!
Dr. Winske was able to carefully remove the larvae whole and what a whopper it was (one of the largest most of the staff has seen)! The wound/hole was then flushed and antibiotics were prescribed to prevent against infection while the site heals.
While it may sound like a fun & easy thing to attempt, it is best to leave cuterebra removals to a veterinarian and should not be attempted at home. Crushing or tearing the larva can cause allergic reactions in your pet and requires further treatment.
The kitten was such a trooper through it all and I’m sure felt much better having his unwanted friend out of there!