“Is this a bloodworm or a parasite?” asks this reader in his submission regarding the creature photographed below. The critter in question appears to be a bright red color, with a thin, segmented body that is seemingly quite bendy.
The question our reader poses is not accompanied by any context, but from just zooming in on the red organism, we can tell that it is a bloodworm indeed. To be more specific, we think it is a red midge fly larva. Before we get into that, it appears that there is another worm-like organism in the photograph, situated directly above the red one (see photo below), and this one is not red, but rather an off-white color. Since our reader refers to the “bloodworm” singularly, we assume he means to ask only about the blood-red organism, but since there are two organisms present, we grew uncertain as to what our reader was asking for. In short, we wish to make clear that we will only be discussing the red organism, as that is the only one that resembles a bloodworm of the two.
Red midge fly larvae are the immature form of the red midge fly, otherwise referred to as the non-biting midge fly, or the blind mosquito. As suggested by the former of their alternate names, these flies, and their larvae, are not harmful to humans or pets. In fact, red midge fly larvae are one of the more common foods to buy for fish, as their hemoglobin-filled bodies are rich in iron. Similarly, people will also use these worms as bait when fishing.
Now, with all of that said, we do not know what circumstances led our reader to question if this organism might be a parasite. Hence, if our reader has reasonable cause to suspect that this is a parasite (for example, he is experiencing symptoms), then he should disregard this identification and seek the opinion of a medical professional. Since we are not medical professionals, these are not answers that we are qualified to provide. So, 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. To conclude, we think that the red organism pictured above is a red midge fly larva, but given that we know nothing about our reader’s situation, we cannot make this identification with 100% certainty. If our reader is concerned for his health, he should seek the advice of a medical professional. Likewise, if his health concerns are tied to the discovery of this worm, then he should specifically seek the opinion of an infectious disease physician. To find one, he can utilize the resources above. We hope all of this helps, and we wish him the very best!
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