House flies (musca domestica) live and breed in close proximity to humans. Flies can definitely be annoying, but do they also spread diseases? Researchers have determined that not only do flies spread diseases, but they may spread more than previously believed. How do flies spread these harmful diseases, and what can you do to prevent them?
One of the main reasons that flies spread so many diseases is because of their feeding behaviors. Flies eat and breed in a plethora of filthy things like garbage, human and animal waste, sweat, rotting food, decaying organic material, and much more. As they land on these surfaces, their legs, body, and wings can pick up disease-causing organisms called pathogens. The next time the fly lands, which could be on your food, it may transfer those organisms.
It’s not only what flies eat that contributes to disease spread, but also how they eat it. Flies can only eat food in liquid form. This means that if something is solid, the fly must first wet the food with saliva to dissolve it before ingesting. The saliva from the fly’s crop (or gut) contains pathogens that can live for several days. So, not only do you have to worry about what the fly has come in direct contact with, but you should also be concerned about what it is vomiting up and defecating.
Flies have been found to carry at least 65 different disease-causing organisms. Some of the diseases spread by flies include: dysentery, cholera, typhoid, salmonella, tuberculosis, trachoma, cutaneous diphtheria, and epidemic conjunctivitis. Transmission can occur in a number of ways including: through contaminated silverware, consuming infected food and drink, direct contact with eyes, mouths, or sores, and eating off contaminated surfaces.
Effective fly control can help to keep your family healthy. Sanitation is essential. Storing food properly, keeping your dishes and prep areas clean, wiping up spills immediately, and removing food crumbs are all good habits to form. Getting rid of fly breeding areas is also critical. Garbage cans should have tight-fitting lids and be taken out regularly, rotting fruits and vegetables need to be removed from the garden, and pet excrement should be cleaned from the yard. Doing these things on a regular basis can help to decrease the fly population around your property.
If you are dealing with fly problems, PF Harris has the products that will help you. Harris Home Pest Control can be used indoors and outdoors and is great to eliminate flies, as well as roaches, spiders, silverfish, and more. For more information, check out Flies: The Ultimate Guide.