“I have been dealing with bedbugs, fleas and possibly head lice for 9 weeks,” reports this reader in his submission. He asks that we identify the gray-black organism pictured below, which appears to have a frail body and a bulbous, black head.
Our reader reports that the bug “came off” him after he got out of the shower one night, and we suppose that he thinks it might have some connection with the bedbugs, fleas and/or lice that he has been experiencing. Now, out of the three organisms, this most resembles a flea larva, albeit a more mature larva (given the large head). That said, it still does not really look like one. It definitely does not resemble any bed bugs or lice that we know of. Either way, if we were to assume that this was indeed a flea larva, then we must assure our reader that it would merely be a coincidence that it was on his body. While fleas do attach themselves to living organisms and feed on their blood, flea larvae do not. Instead, flea larvae will feed on lint, dead skin and insects, food debris, and other organic materials. Besides, even if it were a fully-grown flea, it is rare to find fleas that feed on humans. They may bite, but they do not live on the skin and feed. We should note that our reader does not report feeling as if something bit him.
ATTENTION: GET PARASITE HELP NOW! At All About Worms we get a lot of questions about skin parasites, blood parasites, and intestinal parasites in humans. Because we can't diagnose you, we have put together this list of doctors and labs who understand and specialize in dealing with parasites in humans! That resource is HERE
Now, if our reader is concerned that this is some type of parasite, or that it is in any way affecting his health, then we urge him to seek medical treatment. As we are not medical professionals, we are not able to give medical advice. When it comes to organisms that directly impact one’s health, seeking out a parasite specialist (a parasitologist) is the best way to go about things; GPs often do not receive training in parasitology and ER doctors focus on immediate, live-threatening conditions and would likely not consider a parasite one of these. In the case that our reader has these concerns, what we can recommend is that our reader do one or more of the following: 1) Search for a medical parasitologist in his 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.com. 4) Contact Dr. Vipul Savaliya of Infectious Disease Care (“IDCare”) at idcarepa.com.
To conclude, we are not exactly sure what this organism is, though out of the three creatures he mentions we think it most likely that it is a mature flea larva. That said, if our reader has reasonable cause to believe this creature is negatively affecting his health, then this identification should be dismissed and our reader should instead consult the opinion of a medical professional. We wish him the very best!
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