What (if any) bad things happen when non-lab maggots infest a wound?

Sadly, question inspired by not a hypothetical, as I reveal here: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=15189276&postcount=3779 but I think it’s still a GQ. I’m interested in theoretical risks of naturally acquired maggots, not this particular patient’s prognosis*.

Anyone know? I know that they do use sterile lab raised maggots of some particular species to debride necrotic tissue. But I have absolutely no idea what sort of larvae infested my patient’s leg, and I know they were not sterile or raised in a lab. They do appear to have eaten away the dead tissue; the wound bed has never looked better. But what are the risks of having free range maggots instead of sterile maggots, and mystery larvae instead of the known species used by doctors?
*The patient is under doctor’s care, don’t worry. Doc knows what’s up, patient is on his way to a wound specialist tomorrow. I’m not the only, or even primary, person responsible for his well-being.

Why on earth would you have hidden such a good post deep within the Workplace Griping thread where few of us will ever stumble across it? Thank you for highlighting this in its own thread where it belongs! (I’m not being sarcastic!) Have you considered using leeches to try improving blood flow to the wound as well? If so, please post!

The first thing I would worry about would be fly strike.

There are lots of different species of fly, and by simply an exposing a wound you are collecting a random sample.

Many, maybe even most, species of maggot are laid in necrotic tissue because that is easy to swallow when they are tiny, but they will quite happily eat living tissue. In extreme cases maggots will eat so much tissue that they chew through the through the body wall, disembowelling the host, severe a muscle completely crippling the host or chewing through to the bone leading to osteomyelits.

But even without going to that extreme, these maggot are eating healthy tissue,causing bleeding, and preventing the wound from healing. This is not something you want happening.

ETA: Next time you need to play Whack-a-Maggot, try putting some alcohol or hand sanitizer into the bowl first. That should discourage them from crawling out.

Thanks, Blake! Excellent answer.

Brilliant! Where were you when I needed you today?! I must get a smartphone so I can Dope in the field.

I’m a nurse! I can’t prescribe so much as an Advil for period pain! But I gotta tell you, I’ve been sorely aching to pack some nice healing herbs in some of these wounds I’ve been taking care of lately! I like my license way too much to do it, but I wish… I did get a doctor to prescribe my herbal skin salve for a different patient, though. Healed his chronic hyperkeratosis. He’d had elephant skin for feet for years with dozens of prescription and non-prescription lotions and potions before I got hold of him for two months.

I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I just couldn’t do it. The thought of maggots in live human tissue strikes a terrifying chord somewhere deep in the pit of my being. ‘Irrational fear’ begins to paint the picture…:eek:

I think maggot therapy is just about the coolest thing ever.

Does this mean you’re not going to Google Image Search it either?

In terms of names for a metal band, I agree.

Hm, I have persistent annoying dry patches that the navy docs claim are absolutely not related to the thyroid issue, like my delaminating nails, that pesky 150 pound weight increase in 3 years, the loss of almost half my once considerably thick mass of hair … [oddly all the same symptoms mrAru has, but his body is nice enough to test nicely lacking in thyroid hormone, but mine isn’t playing nice with the bloodwork:(] What praytell is in your salve?

screeming heebie jeebies springs to mind. I have a phobia of maggots, they would have to keep me in a coma for me to tolerate them [or maybe strap me to the bed so all I could do is lay there and scream my throat bloody] Leeches? No problem, festoon me with them. Ticks, again, not a problem [did you know that you can take a tick, stick it on a long pin and when exposed to the flame of a lighter it will jet propel itself off the pin when the steam pressure of the blood in the abdomen flashes?:p] Not thrilled about roaches, but spray works wonders on them. Maggots? Nothing will get me to scream and run [or at least crutch my way as fast as I can] quite like maggots will.:frowning:

I think I would do maggot therapy only in a worst case scenario. Like if the only other option was full amputation. shudder I know it works, but just knowing I have bugs crawling inside an open wound on my body, and they are just hidden under a bandage…

You probably don’t want to know how many bacteria live in your digestive tract…

This topic is strangely fascinating. What keeps the lab-grown maggots from eating into healthy tissue…is this just a matter of a doctor closely monitoring the situation?

Oddly, this thread is making me feel nostalgia. One of the stories my Dad told when I was really little was about how soldiers in WWI would share maggots to keep wounds clean and prevent gangrene. I don’t remember what he said would happen to soldier who wouldn’t share (that wouldn’t give away some of their wigglers - not that wouldn’t accept any), but I have a vague feeling that they were disparaged, at the very least.

I think they specifically use maggots that, unlike most maggots as Blake described, only eat dead tissue.

ETA: Whoops, looks like that’s no longer thought to be true (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggot_therapy) and “closely monitoring” actually IS the mechanism of safety.

So, you’d sterilize those herbs first, correct?

How do you know it was caused by your salve and not something else that changed in the same period? Have you seen if your salve is better than a placebo?

That’s irrelevant. OP said she’s not going to do it.

No, but I do now. I can’t believe I’m kinda looking forward to my next tick! :eek:

The traditional method used ether. In fact, applying ether to the wound will make the maggots fall off on their own, without any need to pick them off with tweezers of cotton swabs.

But ether isn’t as freely available in hospitals as it used to be.

What about a YouTube video? Go ahead and try to resist, no one will think less of you when you click on it. Very fascinating video.

Nice username/topic combo there, CIB!