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[IP] Maggots help treat infected wounds...pretty gross!!!

Maggots help treat infected wounds
NEW YORK, Mar 19 (Reuters Health) -- The growing problem of antibiotic 
resistance is fueling a trend toward a more primitive therapy for the 
treatment of infected wounds -- maggots.
The "application of maggots should be considered to clean up problem or 
infected wounds," write Dr. John Church of the International Biotherapy 
Society in Bourne End, and colleagues at the Princess of Wales Hospital in 
Bridgend, in the UK. Their letter is published in the March 20th issue of 
the British Medical Journal.
In the centuries before antibiotics, physicians routinely introduced fly 
larva (maggots) into wound cavities to help eliminate decaying tissue and 
speed healing.
According to Church and his colleagues, recent years have seen the return 
of maggot therapy in the UK and other countries. "Currently, many patients 
receive larval therapy as the last resort when conventional treatments, 
included repeated courses of antibiotics, have failed," they explain. Ba  
cterial resistance to antibiotics is increasing around the world.
Maggot therapy -- or "biosurgery" -- has so far proven effective in healing 
various types of wounds colonized by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, 
according to the UK team. They note that "particularly spectacular results 
have been reported in the treatment of (ulcerated) feet in diabetes."
The exact mechanisms by which feeding maggots encourage wound healing 
remain unclear. However, the authors speculate that larva may produce 
"antibiotic-like agents," trigger favorable shifts in wound pH, and consume 
and destroy harmful bacteria. One previous study has even detected 
growth-promoting agents (which spur the generation of healthy tissue) in 
larval secretions.
Church's team advises physicians to consider maggot therapy as more than a 
'treatment of last resort.' They point out that use of the therapy early 
could provide wounded patients with a safe and effective alternative to 
antibiotics. British health authorities seem to be in agreement -- 
according to the authors, "to date over 3,500 containers of sterile larvae 
of Lucilia sericata, the common greenbottle, have been supplied to nearly 
400 (healthcare) centres."
SOURCE: British Medical Journal 1999;318:807-808.
Copyright (c) 1999 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. Republication or 
redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior 
written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or 
delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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