Doctor Finds 14 Worms Crawling in the Eye of a Woman With Rare Infection

A woman from Oregon, United States, has become the first person in the world known to have an eye infestation made by a tiny worm species that was previously seen only in cattle. The researchers of the US government said that these worms are spread by flies and feed on eyeball lubrication.

The scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 14 translucent parasitic works of the species Thelazia Gulosa, all measuring less than half an inch long, were extracted from the eye of a 26-year-old woman in over a 20-day period before her symptoms profligate.

[Image Credit: Dr. John Hoyt]
[Image Credit: Dr. John Hoyt]

Infected From a Fishing Boat Trip

The patient, Abby Beckley, thought she had a stray lash under her eyelid after going on a fishing boat trip in Alaska. Before she went to the hospital, she dug out a piece of live, wriggling worm from her eye.

I pulled down the bottom of my eye and noticed that my skin looked weird there. So I put my fingers in with a sort of a plucking motion, and a worm came out!

Abby kept on pulling worms out of her eye at home because she was worried they would attack and infect her brain.

[Image Credit: Abby Beckley / Facebook]
[Image Credit: Abby Beckley / Facebook]

[Image Credit: Abby Beckley / Facebook]
[Image Credit: Abby Beckley / Facebook]

What Are These Species?

In a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Thelazia worms were previously seen in cattle in the northern part of the United States and in Southern Canada. This study also indicated that North Americans may be more vulnerable to these infections.

If these worms remain in a person’s eye untreated for a prolonged time, they can result in corneal scarring and worse, blindness.

Cases of eye worm parasitic infections are rare in the USA, and this case turned out to be a species of the Thelazia that had never been reported in humans.

[Image Credit: ResearchGate]
[Image Credit: ResearchGate]

The Third Eye Infection Known

There are only two known species of eye worms that infect humans worldwide: the lymphatic filariasis and the loa loa filariasis. The thelazia gulosa is now the third one.

Previous cases of eye worm infections which have been reported worldwide were from Europe and Asia, particularly in rural communities which are close to animals and with poor living standards. These eye worms can be found in a variety of animals that include dogs, cats, and other wild carnivores.