File under “ewwww! gross!!!”

I just came across this story on the medical use of maggots (!) — yes, not leeches (which is also a bit ewww!) but maggots (mega ewww!!).

Apparently, they are being used in certain cases both to clear dead tissue and to counterattack bacteria. Who knew? All I know is that if you’ve ever had them show up in your house, you never want to see them again.

Maggots make medical comeback for wound healing

WASHINGTON (AP) – Think of these wriggly little creatures not as, well, gross, but as miniature surgeons: Maggots are making a medical comeback, cleaning out wounds that just won’t heal. Wound-care clinics around the country are giving maggots a try on some of their sickest patients after high-tech treatments fail.

It’s a therapy quietly championed since the early 1990s by a California physician who’s earned the nickname Dr. Maggot. But Dr. Ronald Sherman’s maggots are getting more attention since, in January, they became the first live animals to win Food and Drug Administration approval – as a medical device to clean out wounds.

A medical device? They remove the dead tissue that impedes healing “mechanically,” FDA determined. It’s called chewing. But maggots do more than that, says Sherman, who raises the tiny, wormlike fly larvae in a laboratory at the University of California, Irvine. His research shows that in the mere two to three days they live in a wound, maggots also produce substances that kill bacteria and stimulate growth of healthy tissue.

According to a Dr. Robert Kirsner quoted in this article, “it takes work to convince people”. No kidding! He adds, “They’ll probably be easier to use now that they’re FDA-approved.” Ah… yes… sure… count me out, though, okay?

This has been quite a year for wormlike critters. In June, the FDA also gave its seal of approval to leeches, those bloodsuckers that help plastic surgeons save severed body parts by removing pooled blood and restoring circulation. And in the spring, University of Iowa researchers reported early evidence that drinking whipworm eggs, which causes a temporary, harmless infection, might soothe inflammatory bowel disease by diverting the overactive immune reaction that causes it. (But) there’s a little more yuck factor with maggots.

“Yuck factor” – that’s not a bad description.

Whatever happened to antibiotics and iodine?

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