The last place you would probably expect to find maggots is a hospital but at Bradford Royal Infirmary they are becoming a regular fixture.

Maggots are being used to eat dead tissue and clean up wounds on selected patients in treatment first used in the Napoleonic Wars.

Many of the 60 people who have so far had the tiny maggots applied as part of dressings in the hospital's vascular department have suffered long-running problems with injuries including leg and foot ulcers and bed sores.

The sterile fly larvae have been specially bred for their task and both patients and medical staff have been impressed by their efforts.

Diabetic Ernest Adams, 51, of Shipley, said he had no worries about having the treatment for the second time.

He had his big toe amputated last October but said there was no need for patients to fear the maggot technique.

"The maggots are very tiny, they're not like the ones you use for fishing," he said.

"You can't feel anything and if it reduces the infection I'm happy to be here."

James McCulloch, 51, of Bierley, Bradford, said he was doubtful at first about the treatment carried out last year on his right foot but was now a big fan.

Specialist clinical nurse, Kathryn Vowden, said no-one had refused the treatment which had proved very effective.

"They go directly onto the wound within a dressing that contains them, they stay there and have a lovely time," she said.

"Once patients get over the initial yuk factor they seem to accept them - in fact they are a bit of a joke with some of them who are quite proud telling their relatives.

"They are completely harmless and sterile and when we get them they are very young, having just hatched so they are very small.

"They are very well contained and won't start crawling around the bed.''

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