Diseases Caused by Houseflies

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  • 0:04 The Housefly
  • 0:35 Diseases
  • 1:09 Protozoan and…
  • 2:11 Helminthic Infections
  • 2:31 Prevention of Disease
  • 2:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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 break 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 five-second rule when it comes to flies. If they land on your food, just say no.


Houseflies carry a lot of diseases, estimated at 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 liquid or from bodily fluids like saliva, stomach contents, urine, or feces from the fly. Some diseases transmitted by houseflies include:

Protozoan and Bacterial Infections

Amoebic dysentery: This is a protozoan infection 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.

Shigellosis: This bacterial 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, but 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.

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