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USDA Celebrates Research That Eradicated the ScrewwormBy Alfredo Flores
August 28, 2002
TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, MEXICO, Aug. 28--U.S. Department of Agriculture officials today joined Mexican agriculture officials in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Mexican-American Commission for the Eradication of Screwworm and in recognizing the commission's success in eradicating the pest from the United States and Mexico.
"The successful eradication of the screwworm from the United States and Mexico has saved numerous lives and prevented countless losses in the livestock industry throughout North America," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "The commission should be commended for its valiant efforts and resounding success--not only in these two nations, but throughout Central America as well."
On Aug. 28, 1972, the Mexican-American Commission for the Eradication of Screwworm was formed at the request of Mexican livestock producers, to carry the program south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The commission, made up of an equal number of members from Mexico and the United States, includes USDA employees from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Working with the commission, APHIS managed to establish a barrier at that point in 1984, but cases remained in Mexico until 1986. The Mexican-American commission, in cooperation with other commissions formed with each Central American country, has eradicated the screwworm from virtually all of Central America down to the Isthmus of Panama. Today a permanent sterile fly release barrier is maintained in Panama between the Panama Canal and the Colombian border.
The commission eradicated the pest through methods including sterile fly dispersal, surveillance, quarantine, and wound treatment. The principle approach still used in this eradication program is the sterile insect technique (SIT), a form of biological control.
USDA's Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bill Hawks is leading the USDA delegation and is speaking at today's International Screwworm Symposium and Celebration Day.