Florida Keys Screwworm Inspection

Island  Genn and Indiana Bones at the Screwworm Checkpoint with Karen Rozensher, DVM.
Island Genn and Indiana Bones at the Screwworm Checkpoint with Karen Rozensher, DVM.

Perhaps you have heard that since screwworms have been found in the Florida Keys, all animals leaving the Florida Keys need to be examined at the Animal Health Check Station which is located at MM 106, off the shoulder of northbound lane of the Overseas Highway. This is just before the last Shell Station you come to before heading onto the 18 mile stretch and out of the Florida Keys.

The last thing people want to do when traveling is to make an unscheduled stop. But this process is so expedient, it was not a hassle at all when we recently took our dog, Indiana Bones, to the mainland with us. More about this in a minute!

So what the heck are screwworms? I had never heard of them before this emergency was reported. Simply, they are fly larvae or maggots that are able to infest animals through a wound and feed on their flesh. Sounds like a horror movie to me! Really, it is not that bad though. The whole reason for the examinations is simply to keep the screwworm out of other areas, protecting animals and livestock.

Recently, screwworms have been found in the Lower Florida Keys, specifically on Big Pine Key, No Name Key, Big Torch Key, Middle Torch Key, Little Torch Key, Cudjoe Key, Ramrod Key, Sugarloaf  Key, Summerland Key, and Munson Island. No screwworms have been found in the Upper Florida Keys, and none have been found in Key West either.

The Key Deer that have been found to be afflicted with screwworm are being treated by teams of experts with an antiparasitic medicine. In addition, state and federal agriculture workers are working to determine the extent of the infestation, releasing millions of sterile flies to eliminate the screwworm population, and monitoring cases in animals.

So, you were planning on bringing your four-legged friend on vacation to the Keys with you and now you are not sure what to do. There is no prohibition against visitors bringing their pets to the Florida Keys.  Still, caution is suggested. It is best to bring a healthy pet with no wounds down, especially if visiting the Lower Florida Keys.  And keeping your pet indoors as much as possible will also help safeguard him or her.

Back to our stop. We simply pulled off the road and into the inspection area. We lowered our window and Keren approached our vehicle and introduced herself. She briefly explained what screwworm was and visually inspected Indiana Bones as she asked me a few questions. That was it! It took less than 5 minutes!  Easy Peasy!

Over 7,500 animals have been inspected thus far; luckily, no cases of screwworm have been found!

For more information on screwworm in Florida, check out what the Florida Department of Agriculture has to say.

See what is happening on the island during your visit by checking out our Key West Events Calendar, and for other things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Before making your dining reservations for while in Key West check out our restaurant reviews!

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn

Key West Concierge


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