Health science

Medicinal maggots make a comeback amid growing threat of superbugs

The use of live maggots to clean wounds is enjoying a renaissance in the NHS amid growing concerns about the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The treatment – which involves applying sterilized fly larvae to wounds to eat away at dead tissue – was common in the first half of the 20th century, but the use of live maggots waned with the advent of “The era of antibiotics” in the 1940s.

But now, with antibiotic resistance making some wounds much harder to treat, maggots are being used again in the NHS and overseas. Already, superbugs kill around 700,000 people a year – a figure expected to rise to 10 million by 2050 if AMR continues at its current rate.

BioMonde, a wound care company based in Bridgend, South Wales, breeds Greenbottle Blowflies maggots and annually sells some 25,000 ‘organic bags’ containing the insects across Europe, including 9,000 in the world. NHS.

The bags, each containing between 50 and 400 live maggots, are placed on wounds that do not heal with antibiotics. Maggots eat away rotten flesh, containing and killing the infection.

“Maggots are considered to be a decomposing agent, when in fact they are brilliant little creatures… and work incredibly well in wounds with resistant infections,” said Yamni Nigam, professor of health sciences at the University of Swansea. The telegraph.

“We are on the cusp of this global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe and larval therapy is sometimes seen as a back-up or last resort to fight resistance – but in reality, it’s part of the solution. “

Larval therapy has “stood the test of time”

The use of live maggots was first popularized among physicians by an American scientist, William Baer, ​​who used them to treat wounds in soldiers during World War I. But their use dates back to aboriginal and indigenous communities centuries ago.

“It is a proven and reliable treatment that has stood the test of time for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” said Rebecca Llewellyn, clinical support assistant at BioMonde. “[It] is considered by some to be an old-fashioned treatment, but it is certainly useful in a modern setting.

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