Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lucilia sp, subfamily Calliphorinae

I hate blow flies!  I've seen maggot-infested sheep but I've also experienced maggot-infested wounds in humans in South-east Asia!


With all our rain and humidity the blow flies population has expanded immensely.  They love to get inside houses and are experts at hitching a ride on the back of persons or dogs that access houses. This morning we were woken to the familiar sound of a 'blowie' in our bedroom at 7am. We found another two in the kitchen  and dining room areas and one more turned up later in the study.

Maggots - blow fly larvae - stock photo

I recall one situation I experienced in Vung Tau, 1969, one I had written up in my diary at that time - Elderly guy,  lived alone. Found on the floor out in a humpy, unsure exactly how long he had been there. Dropped at the French Hospital front doors, where I was doing volunteer work as a registered nurse, by local police, legs wrapped up in old towels.

He had spent some hours in the shower with nursing aides trying to rid him of the incredible smells that were emanating over the entire department, with minimal success. As I entered the bay where the man was lying, I could see some flickering movements on the floor by some of the miniature, writhing escapees – obviously they could sense what was to come and were desperate to make a break for it.

Now I was pretty good at dealing with noxious gases and crazy hospital smells, however when I pulled back the sheets I could almost feel a gag coming on – not only did he have an ulcerated wound the size of his fist in his lower leg with tibia + tendons exposed, but inside this wound were literally hundreds of fat, writhing maggots. This wound was creating some crazy, off the chart smells that caused several people to collapse unconscious (nearly!)

So, armed with some hydrogen peroxide 3%, some irrigation fluid and forceps, I spent about an hour removing as many of the maggots from his leg wound as possible, flushing out the wound as best as I could. The situation was made a hundred times more complex as the maggots, keen to make their escape, were tunneling up inside the man’s leg and burying underneath the exposed tibia bone. Oh Joy!

Crazy thing was, after I thought I was finished, I discovered a new stash of maggots in between his big toe and 1st toe (a cluster of like 30), then maggots between each of his other toes on that leg. The skin was kind of like when you go swimming for like a week or two straight, wrinkle toes etc, and there were little sinus areas where the maggots had buried in and were eating flesh. So then I tackled the feet – I’m not quite sure I got them all, but I would estimate that in the leg wound and feet there were between 150 – 200 maggots all up. Good times!

God, I had blow flies!