In response to a previous article we had written in 2017, this reader writes to us about her experience with a seemingly similar worm. The worm in question, as photographed by our reader, is described as being a ‘black thread-like thing.’
Prior to getting into the rest of the article, we need to stress that if our reader, or any of our other readers for that matter, is experiencing any medical issues or has any health-related concerns at all, they should seek help from a medical professional. We are not able to provide medical help as we are not medical professionals, so all we can do is urge our readers to seek the proper help they require.
Now, regarding the article written in 2017, titled ‘Reader Experiencing Symptoms Should See a Doctor’, the submission that spawned this article was sent in as a product of the reader experiencing parasite-like symptoms, such as biting and stinging sensations throughout his body. Although our reader today states that the worm in that article bears an “uncanny resemblance” to what she is “experiencing”, she does not specify what it is she is experiencing. She says the worm was found “on” her “own person”, and we do not know exactly what to make of this. It is unclear whether she experienced this worm exiting her body, or if it was found on her exterior. If it is the latter which is true, then our reader should consider the possibility that this is not a human parasite at all, which brings us to our next point.
Despite this worm somewhat resembling the one photographed in 2017, it also resembles even more closely a horsehair worm, and thus, let’s consider the possibility that this worm is not infesting our reader. Because although horsehair worms are parasites, they only infest insects, such as cockroaches and grasshoppers. Horsehair worms are marine worms that are laid and hatch in water, then the larva are consumed by an insect in which they can mature through feeding on the food that the insect consumes. Once the horsehair worm has fully matured inside the body of the insect, the horsehair worm bursts forth from the body of the insect, killing it in the process. It is this which seems to be happening in the photo our reader sent in. It should be noted that this usually happens when the insect goes into or near another body of water, as that is where the horsehair worm will live for the remainder of its days, but it is not impossible for this to happen on land. If this is a horsehair worm, our reader has nothing to fear. They do not infest homes, nor are they harmful to humans whatsoever.
On the other hand, if our reader is certain that this worm is infesting her own body, and that it is parasitic, then we urge her to consult a medical professional as soon as possible. Just as we stated in the 2017 article, we cannot provide identifications of worms when the context in which they were found is medical in nature. This is because we are not medical professionals and are thus not qualified to provide such information, as it would be like giving a diagnosis. We recommend that our reader seeks help from a medical professional who specifically specializes in parasitic infections. To find such a person, our reader can simply do a Google search of ‘infectious disease specialist (name of closest big city)’ or ‘travel disease doctor (name of her closest big city)’. Additionally, she could also bring the worm itself to her local county extension office or to the entomology department at a nearby university to have it identified prior to going into any medical consultation so as to save time when going into her appointment.
In conclusion, we think that the worm our reader found is a horsehair worm, but that is only given the vague context our reader provided as to the discovery of the worm. If our reader has reasonable cause to believe that the worm is a parasite, then she should seek medical help at the earliest opportunity, and in that case, we are unable to tell her what the worm might be. Best of luck to our reader!