Worms Pulled From Oregon Woman's Eye

A woman’s case of pulling cattle worms out of her eye is being treated as a medical mystery

An Oregon woman who had worms coming out of her eye is being called the first known human case of a parasitic infection spread by flies.

US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention scientists said 14 translucent parasitic worms of the species Thelazia gulosa, all less than half an inch (1.27 cm) long, were extracted from the 26-year-old woman´s eye over a 20-day period before her symptoms dissipated.

After a week of eye irritation, Beckley pulled a worm from her eye.

Previously, only 10 cases of thelaziasis, the infection caused by Thelazia, had been reported in the United States, and all had ended up being the result of Thelazia californiensis worms. Doctors there pulled out 13 more, and weren't sure what to do.

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Beckley says while her eyes are fine now, at the time she was in a panic, since there's little documentation of people having worms in their eyes. "Now, we have to add Thelazia gulosa, a third one to the list". They can be spread by different kinds of flies.

Initially, the doctors thought Beckley could be infected with Thelazia californiensis because that is the only species that was known to infect humans in the US. "We had to go back to papers published in German back in 1928 to help identify this worm as Thelazia gulosa". These tiny worms nestle in an animal's eyes, mature, meet up to do the dirty deed, then lay larvae that are sucked in again by flies. The summer also happens to be when all known human infections have happened.

If the worms move across the surface of the eye, they can scar the cornea and even cause blindness, the doctors noted in the case report.

"Today it's a normal student college life and my eye is fine and I'm totally fine", she said.

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