Saturday, January 19, 2008

The misunderstood Maggot - truly "green"


They're disgusting, they conjure up feelings of dirty, rotting, smelly things and are insects that cause some to taste bile simply by their looks. Wiggly, little larvae of the common fly are responsible for nauseating many a folk, and with good reason perhaps. They are known for their appetite for dead flesh, rotting things that we don't want to see in our lives.

Certain people seem to simply associate these creepy things with other truly creepy things and unfortunately for the maggot they are often misunderstood. As much as I don't want to admit it, or place any association, the maggot is natures funeral director of sorts. Before man has the chance to get his hands on the dead and do what they do to "put them away", the momma fly is busy laying her eggs where possible. It's these eggs that hatch into Larva and are nourished to the time of their metamorphosis into a fly by feeding off of dead tissue. It's these larvae that assist in natures disposition of the dead. Unlike the Bot Fly or Torsalo larvae that feed off of the living.

I was once speaking with a friend of mine who is an RN at a burn center in the Mid-West and somehow the topic of maggots came up. How the hell does one turn the topic of any conversation in the direction of maggots? They were never something that I even considered anything other than gross but I learned that day how maggots were being used for a medical purpose. You may have heard of this before but after I read "What's eating you?" today this again came to mind.

Apparently, burn victims are sometimes treated with "maggot therapy" whereby "pharmaceutical" grade maggots are introduced to the wounds with the hopes that they will clean away the dead tissue, leaving the healthy tissue behind, safe. There is also a natural antiseptic/antibiotic in their saliva which helps in healing; fascinating. This therapy is not only used for burn victims I've learned but also in cases where the healing of any type wound is a problem. It seems to be funny how these unlikely little critters can actually digest death and aid in the healing of the living all at once. Sound familiar? It does to me.

I'm not advocating going out and making friends with a maggot, nor am I suggesting that we keep them on hand for any type of use however, symbiotically speaking, I now have a better understanding why funeral directors are sometimes considered creepy; even after we pupate.

9 comments:

paisley said...

i have heard of this in respects to its ability to work wonders with wound care more specifically wounds that resist healing... and burns makes equally as much sense...

and just so you know... i don't find you the least bit creepy......

MedStudentWife said...

After you pupate *roflmao* !!!

Bot flies are gross.... I have a video (somewhere)of a med student having one pulled from his back.

I first heard of them from a book I was reading about (okay, this is really stupid..... I can't think of the name of the biography & I can't find the book because my "library" is in such a mess)the true life experience of a bucanneer in the Caribbean.

I've heard of medical maggots (not med students *lol*) as well as leech therapy being well used now in wound and surgical care.

There are different species of "flies' maggots" that feed on dead flesh at different times of decomposition,and based on that, there is a new science of forensic policing that is using these timing differences to determin time of death.

So how kwel is all this :D ?

Julie said...

They use 'sterile' maggots in hospitals here to heal up leg ulcers when the antibiotics have stopped working, and they work magnificently. Surprisingly, patients don't find it at all uncomfortable, see no maggots and feel nothing so they are said to quickly get over any objections to the idea of having maggots wriggling about inside them.

Catherine said...

I've heard about maggots being used for burn treatment before. Initially it sounds gross, but it truly is amazing!!

Now, I have to ask...have you ever seen a maggot on a corpse?

deathsweep said...

Unfortunately Catherine, the answer to that question is "more than once"!

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