What is the name of the insect or parasite that burrows in cat skin?

What is the name of the insect or parasite that burrowed into the side of my cats head? I have looked up the word "woof" thinking that is what it is called. The hole is the size of a pencil eraser and it oozes. If the hole is open is it still inside? What can I do if it's is still inside?

  • Vetinfo

    By: Kara McCarty El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    I believe you are thinking of a parasite called Cuterebra, which is the larvae of a botfly. Cats get these parasites by poking their noses into an animal burrow in which the adult female insect has laid eggs along the walls of the burrow entrance or near the burrow. The heat and motion of an animal, unfortunately your cat, causes the eggs to hatch and the larvae to attach to your cat's hair and then burrow under the skin through a small wound or into the mouth or nose. Most of these parasites are found under the skin on the head, neck, back and front of the chest. They can migrate deeply into tissue and cause severe problems because of the immune system's reaction to a foreign substance. Most of the time Cuterebra larvae are discovered when an area of matted/crusted hair is parted and the airhole is found. Do not squeeze this area as it may rupture the larvae inside the skin and this will cause a severe foreign body reaction which can lead to anaphylaxis (swelling of the airway passages leading to death if not treated). It is best to take your cat to his or her veterinarian where the airhole will be enlarged and the whole larvae safely removed. Sometimes this requires sedation/local anesthesia or complete anesthesia depending upon where the larvae is located and how large it is. -Kara, DVM

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