Maggots in Humans

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This adult house fly developed from a maggot.
This adult house fly developed from a maggot. (Image: "Lord of the Flies" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: krishnamohan01 under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Maggots are the larva stage of the common house fly, blowfly and various other species of flies. A maggot infestation in humans can be dangerous but also beneficial.

Identification

Maggots are between 3 and 9 millimeters in total length. They are cream to white in color and spend approximately five days of their life cycle as maggots.

Myiasis

In humans, myiasis occurs when an adult fly is attracted to a human, most often due to an open wound where it will lay eggs. The eggs hatch within eight to 20 hours and begin feeding.

Intestinal Myiasis

Myiasis can occur in the intestines when a person ingests fly eggs. Intestinal myiasis can cause severe damage to internal organs if left untreated.

Benefits of Maggots

During the U.S. Civil War and World War I, doctors on the battlefield noted that soldiers who had maggots healed better than those without maggots. The maggots were eating rotted flesh and cleaning out bacteria.

Maggots in Hospitals

Today, more than 200 hospitals prescribe maggots to treat infections such as bed sores, stab wounds, foot ulcers and post-surgical wounds. These maggots are grown in laboratories to prevent bacterial contamination of the maggots and the patients.

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