An Increase in Gadfly Cases

Throughout the month of May there were 38 individual cases of gadfly infestations attended to by the mobile clinic and its expert vets. This spike in gadfly infestations is common at this time of year, when the flies are found in abundance in Southern Thailand during the height of the rainy season. However, what is less common is the dramatic increase in the month of May found in 2023 compared to previous years.

It would seem requests for gadfly treatment coming to the vets at the STEF mobile clinic previously peaked in March or April, suggesting that either the flies may not have been debilitating the elephants until much later in the season this year or their mahouts may have found initial treatment from a local veterinarian at an earlier stage of infestation. This increase in cases is resulting in a very busy time for our vets, Dr Aon and Dr Cookie.

So how do gadflies affect the elephants?

The Big Give

Gadflies, also known as Duang, Tor Lae or Maleang wan pa in Thailand, lay eggs under the skin of a host animal, such as an elephant. This leaves a lump under the skin that may feel uncomfortable to the animal. Once the eggs hatch and the larvae mature it will find its way to the surface of the skin and erupt out of the host, often causing painful sores. Gadfly lumps and sores are often found around the belly, hips and sides of the elephant. Infection of these areas make it easy for the elephant to rub the sores against trees, posts and other objects to alleviate discomfort, which in turn can exacerbate the problem by causing larger wounds that then also need to be treated.

What can be done about it?

When an elephant is diagnosed with a gadfly infestation the course of treatment is usually fairly straight forward and involves the use of a routine de-wormer. Once this antiparasitic drug is administered it will just need time to take effect. On occasion wound sites caused by the gadfly larvae may need to be cleaned and any existing larvae removed.

For further information on previous gadfly cases at the STEF clinic, see our earlier news story here 

Sangdao being treated with the entada scanden vine