Creepy, disgusting—these are the words often associated with maggots. However, these crawly little things can also help heal injuries. In fact, the UK government is sending them to war zones including Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan.
Medical Benefits of Maggots
The “maggot treatment” might sound unusual, however, this healing method can be actually be traced back to ancient times. Maggots were used by the Aboriginals of Australia and Mayan tribes in Central America to heal wounds. It is said that Mayans apply the live maggots directly to the wound and cover them with dressings soaked in cattle blood and sun-dried. They watched as the bandage squirm with maggots.
Maggots were also used to clean wounds during World War I. Apparently, war doctors realized that wounds infested with maggots heal quicker. Soon some doctors intentionally expose wounds of their patients to maggots.
So, what sort of magic do these creatures do? Maggots can help keep wounds from contamination by eating dead tissues. What’s more? Their saliva was found to have antibacterial properties. In fact, there are reports that Maggots can even cleanse wounds faster than surgeons can.
The ‘Maggot Project’
In areas with insufficient medical facilities like warzones, non-fatal wounds can become fatal due to infections. The UK government ushered a $250,000 project to help heal injuries of people in war zones. This may help them avoid losing their limbs due to amputations and lower the risk of death.
But hey! The UK project won’t be using the ancient Mayan way. For the project, the hospitals will raise maggots in a different location. The eggs will be sterilized and incubated for one to two days. After which, they can be used directly on the wounds or stored in BioBags that can be wrapped around the wounds, reported The Telegraph.
To keep potential diseases from spreading, the maggots can only be used once and will be disposed of after use. They can also be released to the wild and the larvae will naturally sterilize themselves as they become flies.
“People living through conflict and humanitarian crisis are still dying from wounds that could so easily be healed with the right access to care,” said Penny Mordaunt, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development.
The maggots would not only benefit war zones, the team also hopes to create do-it-yourself maggot starter kit by 2021 for the use of people living in remote communities.
The “maggot treatment” has many benefits. It has a low cost, with few to no side effects, and can help heal wounds with minimal scarring. With people’s growing resistance to penicillin and antibiotic, it might just be humanities next lifesaver.