One of our readers recently sent us a photograph of a worm-like organism she discovered in a small portion of a human stool sample. She found 2 of these creatures, and while she explained that she was expecting to find worms, she wasn’t expecting to find specimens like these. She magnified the specimens about 40x for the photograph:
This creature doesn’t look like a typical worm that would be found in feces. It looks more like a larva of some type, with a segmented body and two antennae. When worms are found in stool, it can be an indicator of intestinal parasites. However, this worm doesn’t resemble any of the most common intestinal parasites: tapeworm, flukes, hookworms, pinworms (a.k.a. threadworms), or trichinosis worms.
People can get infected with intestinal parasites in a few different ways. Drinking water that is contaminated with parasitic eggs or larvae and eating raw or undercooked meat are the two most likely ways to get tapeworm, flukes, or trichinosis. Hookworms, on the other hand, are transmitted through feces and contaminated soil. Pinworms, which are most common in children, can survive on bedding, clothing, and other materials, and can be spread by direct contact between those who are infected and those who are not. We don’t think any of these are the worm-like organisms our reader is dealing with, although the person might have become infected in one of these ways.
Our reader didn’t elaborate on how she ended up with this stool sample and who it belongs to. For all we know, she is a doctor and it belongs to a patient. Since we are not medical professionals, we are not able to give medical advice of any kind, and this is definitely a medical issue. We encourage our reader to bring this stool sample to a doctor, and to encourage its owner to seek medical care. We wish our reader the best of luck with this mystery and that the stool sample owner finds good health!