Living With Maggot Therapy

As noted in the last post, insects live in close contact with many pathogens. The presence of antibiotic substances in insects is not uncommon. Insects that feed on dead or dying tissue often must compete with microbes for the food resource.

Blow fly maggots consume dead and dying tissue. The maggots will only feed on dead or dying tissue and leave healthy tissue. They also secrete antibiotic substances that inhibit microbes from colonizing and consuming their food. There are intractable cases where maggot debridement therapy is useful for treating wounds. Diabetics are more prone to problems with wounds that do not heal. Festering wounds may become gangrenous and lead to amputation.

The video below documents a successful use of maggots to treat a wound in a diabetic who was facing amputation of a foot because of a wound that would not heal. The maggots used in this therapy are produced in licensed laboratories under sterile conditions. It is important to not introduce additional pathogens into an already infected wound. The maggots are sealed onto the wound site with a bandage. They consume the dead and dying tissue and leave the healthy tissue.

Maggot therapy is important to human health, but not for the squeamish.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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5 Responses to Living With Maggot Therapy

  1. Martrell Golston says:

    This is a really interesting article. I never knew that a insect like a fly maggot could contribute to human health. I would have hypothesized the complete opposite. When I think of anything related to flies or maggots, I immediately think of filth and disease. I’m a bit curious to learn more about why the maggots only consume the dying tissue and not the healthy. I could only imagine that their are countless usues for this “insect technology”, but my only concern is the possible side effects, if any.

  2. Pingback: Living With Insect DNAses | Living With Insects Blog

  3. Pingback: Living With Lucifensin | Living With Insects Blog

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    You’re incredible! Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Maggots: A Medical Device | Living With Insects Blog

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