How Maggots Affect the Human Body

Maggots or “fly larvae” belong to roughly half of the fly species. Their bodies are made up of a pointes anterior end that contains one or a pair of mouth hooks. The posterior contains a pair of external airholes called “spiracles” and the posterior is blunt. The airholes appear to look like black spots, but under a microscope, the holes are actually a complex pattern of “slits” or pores that help to distinguish species.

While most maggots feed on decaying organic matter such as plants and oats, maggots of the blow fly feed on small dead animals and the contents of garbage cans. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “maggots sometimes occur in soil near buildings in cities; their food source is not known. Eight ‘waves’ of maggots have been distinguished; each wave attacks dead animals in a strict sequence as decay progresses from the newly dead corpse through rigor and putrefaction to mummification. Although some maggots appear only during a clearly defined stage of animal decomposition, the large voracious maggots of many blow flies feed on any animal matter, including living tissues.”

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Maggots have a number of medical uses. They assist in the prevention of infection by cleaning away dead flesh. They also produce allatonin. This chemical compound is naturally produced by many organisms, and used in medications to treat a number of skin conditions such as impetigo, acne, and eczema. Maggots were also used during the civil war to remove decaying tissue and prevent bacterial growth in open wounds.

Although maggots can be a powerful preventative medicine, they can also destroy healthy tissue. When maggots are or have been used in the medical profession, it is done so only under controlled conditions by a skilled professional. If a maggot is or has been eating away at any part of your body, it is possible that the creature may have eaten away at healthy tissue. This may cause permanent damage to your tissues, so it is extremely critical that you contact a doctor immediately or go to an emergency room. The severity of your condition cannot be determined online or without the trained eye and techniques of a medical professional.

When you visit a doctor or emergency room, here’s what you can expect: A doctor will clean the infected wound with a high grade solution and extract any maggots from the area. He will then apply a topical antibiotic and you may have to take oral medications for up to 6 weeks or more. If your wound is serious, you may require stitches. So again, if you have come in contact with a maggot or maggots, you must visit a doctor immediately.

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Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com

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