Medical Maggots

    Biotherapy is using live organisms to treat illness. Some examples of this include leech therapy, bee venom therapy, and maggot therapy. The overall goal of maggot therapy is to remove dead tissue safely from a patient. Maggot therapy was initially studied when soldiers were found with maggot infestations in their wounds. They noticed that these soilders wounds would heal much better after the infestation of the maggots.  However by using the wrong species of fly it was found that it can damage the living tissue.
     Lucilia sericata is one of the most commonly used blow flies for maggot therapy. Today it is used to treat different types of skin and soft tissue wounds. The maggots have been known to eliminate odor and destroy some tissue of malignant tumors. If a wound is life threatening, maggot therapy is not used and doctors will try surgery. The number of maggots that are applied to a wound all depends on the age and size of the maggot, amount of necrotic tissue, and the size of the wound. Once they are placed on the wound the doctor will then wrap the area with proper dressings to ensure that the maggots will not escape. The larvae will be removed from the wound up to three days later.  
How it works:              
      Maggots remove the debris and infection from a patient which will then help the body heal the wound. In 1935, Simmons it is reported that the antimicrobial activity of medicinal maggots secretions have an ability to kill strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus sp. Maggots excrete products that inhibit growth of microbes and will help stimulate healthy tissue growth. It is very important to make sure that the maggots being used are germ-free. There have been cases where patients will develop bloodstream infections during maggot therapy because the maggots were not sterile before the application. The procedure of making sure that maggots are not contaminated has been improved. Doctors can now ensure that they are placing sterile maggots on patients because of the tests that they must past. The maggots will be placed on a blood agar plate which can detect if the maggot is contaminated with bacteria or fungi. Also a random sample of maggots will be checked for pathogens before being delivered to a hospital. Finally many doctors will take a swab of the maggots before application to further ensure the safety of them. This is why it is important that if you are considering maggot therapy you should do it in a safe medical setting with a certified doctor.                
     Some people might quiver and squirm at the idea of maggots crawling on their bodies to help heal their wounds. This has prevented many people from choosing this therapy as a possible treatment. With an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, maggot therapy might be the only thing that will help heal a wound.  Education on the benefits of Lucilia sericata will hopefully increase the popularity of maggot therapy and biotherapy in general.

 Check out this Youtube video on Maggot Medicine!!!

Take a look at how Lucilia sericata are involved with forensic science