“I have these all over my house,” says this reader about the organisms pictured in a series of photographs. The organisms in question vary in appearance from something that resembles a stick, to an angry, red mass floating in water.
Other than stating that the organisms were found in her “hair, bed, clothes, crib, and shoes”, our reader does not provide any more context. That being said, the majority of her photographs are of good quality and even her giving the locations where these worms were found is helpful. What is confusing about this case is that every photograph pictures a seemingly different organism; at least, they all look very different. The organism pictured above looks like a stick insect (phasmid), while another one looks like a pupa (a larva inside its chrysalis). Another one seems to picture a tangled mass of brown, stringy matter sitting under the water, and another photo seems to be a close up of a mark on our reader’s skin. And lastly, we have the aforementioned red mass, which also looks like it is submerged in water.
To be frank, we are quite befuddled as to what we can, or should, identify here. As our reader mentioned that she has found these organisms in her hair, this situation could very well be medical in nature. In that case, it is not our place to identify these worms as we are not medical professionals. Our reader would need to consult a medical professional to get an accurate diagnosis and possibly treatment. We still recommend that our reader do this, and we will provide some resources for our reader later on in the article. That being said, on one hand we might suppose that these are all different organisms indeed, and in that case we could identify some of the organisms that look familiar to us. The stick insect-looking creature might actually be a stick insect, and the red mass could very well be a clew of tubifex worms. On the other hand, our reader does not distinguish between these worms in her query, and groups them all together by referring to them as a collective. For that reason, we think it safer not to provide any certain identifications.
This is what we are going to recommend. First, we suggest that our reader books a time with an infectious disease physician. GPs and ER doctors do not, for the most part, receive training in parasitology, so going to a specialist is our reader’s best bet. So, when it comes to finding a physician, our reader can 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.
Secondly, we think putting the pupa-looking creature (see image below) in a container with air holes could be a good idea. That way, in the case that it is a pupa, our reader will be able to see what it turns into and gain an insight into what this creature is and if it is connected to all the other organisms she has been finding in her home. Likewise, we suggest that when our reader does consult a physician, she brings samples of as many of these organisms as she can, especially considering that they might be different organisms.
Lastly, we urge our reader to ensure that she sticks to a consistent and thorough cleaning regimen. Cleaning one’s house, and especially one’s bathroom, regularly can prevent a whole host of organisms from entering one’s home and taking up residence there. When it comes to finding organisms in one’s bed and clothes, one should make sure that those materials are laundered at the highest temperatures they can withstand, and that areas surrounding where the organisms were found are vacuumed and/or cleaned out in any way possible. If any eggs or other organisms remain, the infestation (assuming that is what this is) can simply continue on for longer.
To conclude, we cannot be sure what it is our reader has been finding all over her home. If these organisms truly are all of the same species, then we have seen nothing like it. However, we think it more likely that they are different organisms. Either way, given the medical nature of this situation, we urge our reader to have this confirmed by a qualified infectious disease physician. They will be able to better help our reader get the answers and help she needs. We wish her the best of luck and hope that this article still proves helpful to some degree!
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.