A woman who is in desperate need of help has reached out to us as she thinks she is experiencing multiple parasitic infections. From finding scab-like worms on her back to larvae-looking creatures, our reader is overwhelmed with the sheer number of organisms she is finding on herself.
Before we get into detailing the rest of our reader’s situation, it is important that we note that this article will unfortunately not provide any of the direct answers that our reader might be wanting, meaning we will not be able to identify any of the creatures that our reader has sent photos of or described. This is because our reader has expressed clearly that she thinks these are parasites, and so this situation is clearly medical in nature. As we are not medical professionals, we are unable to identify any of these creatures, as that would be tantamount of giving our reader a diagnosis. What we can do is tell our reader’s story so that any of our other readers, who may be experiencing something similar, also know to seek medical help and find out what they may potentially be dealing with. We can also give our reader some pointers as to where she can go to receive the proper help she needs.
So, our reader begins her query by describing a “parasitic worm that comes off” as a scab of sorts that she found on her back. Removing the ‘scab’ would leave painful sores. She says “[the worm] always attached to a previous sore” and then large worms “would follow”, though we are not quite sure what she means by this. When she put the “big one” in water, it swam with “rapid fierceness.” When she left one of those worms in a “urine sample size container” over night and forgot to put the lid on, the worm escaped, leaving our reader to frantically search for it the next day. She continues on to describe another creature she found many of (which she has not photographed), these ones resembling “round larvae”, moving at a slow pace and breathing “like a heartbeat.”
Additionally, our reader states that she believes she has horsehair worms. “Every hair from my head lives,” she says, “and burning it is the only way to kill it.” “Sounds insane but I’m sure you know.” Here is the only place where we are going to step in and say that these are definitely not horsehair worms. We can say that because, while horsehair worms are parasitic to insects, they do not infect humans or any mammals at all. We are more sure of this because of what follows in our reader’s submission. She states that she “can put a strand of hair from anywhere off [her] body and surely it will swim, looking like a king cobra when coming up for air.” Not only do horsehair worms not infect humans, but there is no recorded parasite that grows out of one’s body and becomes hair. This isn’t to say that our reader isn’t dealing with something, but we can reassure her at least that they are not horsehair worms.
Later on, our reader states that she has also found “corse red worm-like fibers” that are coming from her scalp and clothing and “doing the same thing.” We are not entirely sure what she means by “doing the same thing”, though perhaps we should assume that these worms also swim when put in water. If our reader wishes to clarify this, or any statement for that matter, she is welcome to inform us in the comments section below. Our reader tells us that there are pictures of not only all that she has already described, but also of a “blue egg with tail”, something she does not mention at all throughout her query, and so we do not know what to make of that. She concludes her submission by stating that doctors do not take her seriously while she is “infested with parasites.”
Now, there is a lot here that a medical professional could unpack, and despite our reader’s doctors turning her away, there are still options for her to seek help that we recommend she takes advantage of. The PCI (Parasitology Center Inc.) is generally a great resource for all things parasites, and if our reader wishes to, she can order a comprehensive stool sample that tests for intestinal parasite or contact Dr. Omar Amin for any help relating to her problem.
Further to this, we can also recommend Dr. Vipul Savaliya, founder of IDCare. After one of our readers came to us about a fantastic experience they had with Dr. Savaliya, we reached out to him. Despite his office being located in North Carolina, he also does online consultations and has agreed to hear from any of our readers who fear they are experiencing a parasitic infection. So this is definitely an option for our reader. Of course, in the case that she would rather have an in-person consultation with a medical professional, we recommend that she sticks to seeking out other infectious disease specialists.
To find one in her area, she can simply Google search ‘infectious disease physician (name of her closest big city)’ or ‘travel disease doctor (name of her closest big city’. Visiting her local county extension office and bringing samples of the worms to have them identified prior to her visit with a physician might also be a good idea. Additionally, our reader may also want to consult the ASTMH (the ‘American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene’), where they have a service that locates infectious disease physicians within the given area of the patient!
In conclusion, it seems as though our reader is dealing with a lot right now. While we cannot identify any of the organisms our reader has kindly photographed for us, we hope that this article was still somewhat useful, either in pointing her down the right path, or in helping any of our other readers, who may identify with this woman, realize that they may need to seek medical care as well. We wish our reader the best of luck.