Pets Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for pet owners, caretakers, breeders, veterinarians, and trainers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I feed my sunfish frozen bloodworms, and I was told that touching the bloodworms is a really bad idea; that they carry some terrible bacteria that can be transferred to humans. I tried looking up why you're not supposed to touch bloodworms, and all I found were people saying that if they touch bloodworms, they have an allergic reaction.

Is it true that touching bloodworms is a bad idea for more reasons than the risk of an allergic reaction? Or is it okay as long as you don't have a reaction?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

No, it does not appear that anything harmful beyond an allergic reaction takes place.

If you search against "Bloodworm allergies", you will find many accounts related by people who have discovered that touching bloodworms (frozen or not) can cause allergic reactions, which is why you should wear gloves when handling them.

According to the study, "Fishing for Allergens: Bloodworm-Induced Asthma" at the Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology (AACI) site:

Bloodworms, which are larvae of chironomids (also called freshwater midges), are often used as fish food or bait. Although chironomids can be found in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, allergies to them are mainly due to their use as fish food. Individuals at particular risk of chironomid-induced allergy include fish farmers, fishermen, pet shop owners, and others who keep fish or work with fish [...]

There have been a number of previously reported cases of hypersensitivity to chironomids [...] . With the increasing popularity of aquariums, allergy to chironomids may become less of a novelty and become something clinicians should be aware of when searching for the cause of a patient's atopic symptoms.

Beyond the allergic reactions, which can be severe, I have found no other evidence of problems from touching bloodworms. Some of the messages I have read mention sensitivity increases over time, but I cannot find a study to back up that statement. It is probably best to avoid contacting them at all to avoid any severe reactions. I am not a doctor, therefore I cannot recommend experimenting with a mild touch to see if you have an allergic reaction.

The only relation with bacteria I can find is that using raw bloodworms can possibly transition bad bacteria to your tank; problems with touching bloodworms appears to be sourced solely from allergic reactions. It is possible these two separate concepts related to bloodworms (bacteria and allergies) may have mixed for you.

The warning from Hikari USA' Jumbo Blood Worms advises the following precautions:

Handling frozen food derived from a live animal can cause the same allergic reaction possible by handling the live animal itself. To avoid potential problems, always wash your hands immediately after use and avoid contact with your nose and mouth prior to washing.

share|improve this answer
This is the truth. – Raystafarian Feb 28 '14 at 2:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.