Red Worm Found in Toilet After Trip to Costa Rica Could be a Bloodworm

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“Can you identify this worm found in my toilet bowl after peeing?” asks this reader in her submission regarding the red, semi-transparent worm pictured below. “I live alone and recently traveled to Costa Rica (mid December) where I mostly surfed in salt water, walked through a couple freshwater rivers, drank minimal tap water, possibly had a couple small scrapes or cuts from surf/reef injuries. Doctor I visited was very uncertain but suspected it was a schistosoma. Looked into this but does not appear to indicate Central America as an at risk zone for this parasite. Thanks for your help.”

From the picture alone, we think this is likely some type of bloodworm, perhaps an underdeveloped one (given its translucent skin). This is based on the possibility that the worm did not come from our reader. The name ‘bloodworm’ actually refers to a multitude of worm species, all of which share the trait of blood-red bodies. They get this color from their high production of hemoglobin, which allows them to survive in low-oxygen conditions for long periods of time. That is also why many bloodworm species are aquatic.

On that note, it is not entirely uncommon for someone to find a bloodworm in their toilet, and they are completely harmless. Like earthworms and other critters that have been known to surface in people’s toilets, bloodworms can accidentally make their way into people’s bathrooms via a leak in the plumbing somewhere underground. Signs of a leak include foul-smelling or tasting water, changes in water pressure, and discolored water. If our reader thinks she might be experiencing a leak, she should contact a professional to deal with this.

Now, if she and her doctor think this is a medical issue, and that it is a schistosoma (a blood fluke), then she should by all means disregard the identification made above. Similarly, if she thinks that the worm came from her body when peeing, then she should likewise disregard what was written previously. Since we are not medical professionals, we are not qualified or legally able to make identifications of this nature, as doing so would be to provide a diagnosis. She did mention that her doctor was uncertain, and this makes sense: most primary care doctors do not receive training in parasitology. For that reason, we recommend that she consult a medical parasitologist, as they do specialize in the area of parasitic infections.

To find a medical parasitologist 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.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, if this worm did not come from our reader’s body, we would say it is likely some type of bloodworm. That said, if she has cause to believe it did come from her, and she is concerned about her health, she should disregard this identification and instead seek the opinion of a medical parasitologist. We hope this helps and we wish her the very best!

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Red Worm Found in Toilet After Trip to Costa Rica Could be a Bloodworm
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Red Worm Found in Toilet After Trip to Costa Rica Could be a Bloodworm
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"Can you identify this worm found in my toilet bowl after peeing?" asks this reader in her submission regarding the red, semi-transparent worm pictured below. "Doctor I visited was very uncertain but suspected it was a schistosoma."
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Author: Worm Researcher Anton

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