Diseases Caused by Houseflies

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

We all know houseflies and see them around everywhere. The housefly does not bite us, but it can carry some deadly infections. In this lesson we learn about diseases caused by houseflies.

The Housefly

The housefly, also known as Musca domestica, is an insect with six legs, two wings, and large compound eyes. They are hard to miss. They dwell in dense areas and breed in feces and garbage.

Did you know that flies can only eat liquids? They do this by vomiting on whatever they want to eat. The enzymes and stomach juices breaks the food down and makes it possible for the fly to suck it up. This is why we don't allow flies to sit on our plates. There's no three second rule when it comes to flies. If they land on your food, just say no.

Housefly eating from a plate


Houseflies carry a lot of diseases; it is estimated they carry over 100 different kinds. Flies sit on feces, garbage, and other waste where they pick up bacterial, helminthic, and protozoan infections. Other than transmitting diseases, ingesting fly larvae can cause intestinal myiasis.

Houseflies carry pathogens (vectors for parasites and bacteria) when they land on food surfaces. The contamination happens either through physical contact with the food (or liquids) or from bodily fluids (saliva, stomach contends, urine, feces) from the fly. Here are some diseases transmitted by houseflies.

Protozoan infections:

  • Amoebic dysentery: Also called Amoebiasis whereby a parasite infects the intestines. Symptoms include blood or mucus in stool, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach aches. If the parasite gets into the blood stream, it causes liver abscesses.

Bacterial infections:

  • Shigellosis: This infection is caused by the Shigella bacteria. Symptoms include diarrhea (stools may have blood or mucus), stomach cramps, and fever.
  • Cholera: This is an intestinal infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Symptoms are usually mild. A severe attack can kill a person within a few hours due to extreme dehydration. They usually have diarrhea, vomiting and cramps in their legs.
  • Salmonellosis: Infection caused by Salmonella. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. People can recover without treatment most of the time. We commonly know this infection as Typhoid fever.
  • Trachoma: Infection of the eye caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. Symptoms start as itching of eyes then lead to puss and finally blindness if untreated.

Helminthic infections

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