“This one centimeter-long worm-like creature was found in my mother’s tub today and on a few previous occasions”, says this reader about the segmented, green-gray creature in the photograph below. Our reader’s mother is concerned that these are pinworms, and our reader wonders if we can verify whether or not these are millipedes, centipedes or indeed pinworms.
To start off with, our reader mentions seeing “one that was smaller and more white/yellow in color” previously, and that she and her mother will occasionally see a centipede or millipede in the basement. When her mother found these, she thought they were pinworms and “had her doctor prescribe medicine to eradicate them” over a virtual visit. After comparing this creature to photos from our website, our reader thinks this is a centipede or millipede, but she nonetheless wants to “put her mother’s mind at ease as she took the pinworm medicine at the beginning of December” and the second round of medication three weeks later, and yet she is still seeing these “worms.”
We think our reader is correct in identifying this as a millipede; the segmentation, shape of its body, and the antennae tell us that this is the most probable match. If it were a centipede, the legs would be sticking out from the side of its body and would be quite visible. Pinworms do not look like this at all, but are rather white in color, with no segmentation, and do not tend to roam around the home, but stay near the spot of the body they are infesting (usually the anus).
As opposed to pinworms, millipedes are completely harmless creatures; they are not parasitic and are not considered pests either. Infestations can occur if their numbers grow to an unmanageable extent, but otherwise they are nothing to worry about. Millipedes feed on decomposing organic matter, just like earthworms, and are considered environmentally beneficial, so if our reader is finding them in her basement, there might be something that needs to be cleaned up in there that is rotting, but it could also just be because millipedes prefer the damp, cool environment.
That said, we do not want to negate the mother’s health concerns. If she has reasonable cause to believe she has a pinworm infestation, then she should by all means continue to seek medical help. We do no not know what kind of doctor our reader’s mother has been going to, but if it is not a medical parasitologist, it is doubtful they have much training in parasitology. We instead recommend that our reader’s mother consult a medical parasitologist. To find one, she can do one or more of the following:
1) Search for a medical parasitologist in Cleveland, Ohio 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 Cleveland, Ohio” or “tropical medicine specialist Cleveland, Ohio”.
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.
We should note that both Dr. Amin and Dr. Savaliya are available for online consultation, so our reader does not need to be in the vicinity of their physical offices to get help!
In conclusion, we agree with our reader that the worm found in her mother’s bathtub is a millipede, and in that case, she has nothing to worry about. But of course, if our reader’s mother is still concerned about a potential pinworm infestation, then we think it wise to get a second medical opinion, particularly from a medical parasitologist. Whichever option our reader’s mother decides to go for, we wish her the best and hope that this article helps bring some peace of mind to our reader and her mother.