Worms found in Lake Macatawa said to be harmless

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-26 18:33:10-04

HOLLAND, Mich. -- A Facebook photo of a fish with little pink worms in Lake Macatawa is being shared hundreds of times.

The DNR says they are likely red worms, also known as roundworms, and they are harmless to humans.

They are typically found in perch and are common in western Lake Erie and in Lake Huron.

Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator for the DNR, says this is the first report of red worms he can recall in the Lake Michigan basin in about five years.

"It's probably isolated. It's something that's been around Michigan for hundreds of years, so red worm is not anything new to us," said Wesley. "It's just for whatever reason, conditions were right in Lake Macatawa, and people are starting to see some infested fish."

The red worm is usually pink to red in color and can be up to two inches long. It can cause some internal damage to fish but is rarely fatal to them. And fish with red worms are still safe to eat, as long as they're cooked properly. "Cut the cyst out and typically the rest of the meat of the fish or the fillet is fine," said Wesley. "If they're heavily infested, then you can just throw the fish out."