“As my husband has been losing a bit of weight, he was wondering if [this worm] was something other than an earthworm!” writes this reader to us about the creature photographed below. In the photo, we see a long, thin, pinkish-brown worm lying on what looks to be a piece of toilet paper.
It is our opinion that this does indeed look like an earthworm. This is purely based on its appearance, as earthworms can be of this length and are typically of this color too. Although our reader does not mention where it was found, given that it is lying on what looks like toilet paper in the picture, we might assume that it was found in the toilet (or near one of the drains in a bathroom). If this is the case, then our reader needs not worry as this does happen sometimes. When earthworms come up from a drain, it is potentially a sign that there is a leak somewhere along the pipe. Most probably, the leak is somewhere underground, rather than in the walls, as the earthworms then have easy access and can crawl through the leak in the pipe and enter the home via the drain. If the earthworm was not found in the pipe, and is indeed an earthworm, it may simply have crawled through an open door or window.
Now, our reader did mention our husband losing weight in conjunction with the discovery of this worm. For that reason, we must take into account the possibility that this is not an earthworm, but something else, specifically something harmful to humans. If this is the case, then this situation becomes medical in nature. Consequently, we will not be able to identify the worm, as doing so would be like giving a diagnosis, and as we are not medical professionals, this is not something we are capable, nor qualified to do.
So, if our reader has reasonable cause to believe that this worm came from her husband, or that it is hurting him in some way, we urge her husband to seek medical attention. Seeking out one’s GP/private doctor is one option, though in many of our readers’ experience, this is often a waste of time as a ‘regular doctor’ does not receive training in parasitology and thus will turn away patients who come to them with such problems. Instead, what we can recommend is that our reader’s husband do one or more of the following: 1) Search for a medical parasitologist in their area using this directory of medical parasitology consultants: https://www.astmh.org/for-astmh-members/clinical-consultants-directory. 2) Search for a local parasitologist by doing a Google search for “medical parasitologist (name of the closest big city)” or “tropical medicine specialist (name of the closest big city)”. 3) Get in touch with Dr. Omar Amin at the Parasitology Center at https://www.parasitetesting. 4) Contact Dr. Vipul Savaliya of Infectious Disease Care (“IDCare”) at idcarepa.com.
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In the case that our reader does manage to book a consultation with an infectious disease specialist, whether it is in person or online, we recommend showing this picture or even having the physical worm at his disposal (if that is still an option). They may also need more context than what our reader told us, so they can piece together exactly where the worm came from and if it has anything to do with our reader’s husband’s weight loss. If our reader also wants a second opinion on the worm, she (or her husband) can take the worm to a local county extension office or university extension to have an entomologist take a look at it. If this is done prior to a visit with an infectious disease physician, it may speed up the process of diagnosing the problem, as our reader already has some information to go on.
To conclude, we cannot say for certain if this worm is an earthworm or not. If has not come from her husband, and is not harming him in any way, then yes we would say it is an earthworm. However, given the potential link between this worm’s appearance and our reader’s husband’s weight loss, we cannot take any chances and say anything for certain, as we are not medical professionals and thus not qualified to do so. We wish our reader’s husband the best of luck, and hope that they find some concrete answers soon!