Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Life&Culture | By Peggy Hughes

Worm pulled from woman's eye makes medical history

Worm pulled from woman's eye makes medical history

There, doctors collected still more worms and sent them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where experts ultimately identified them as species Thelazia gulosa and gave Beckley, then aged 26, the rather dubious honor of becoming the first recorded case of that particular worm infecting a human.

"Previously, it was thought that there were only two species of these (Thelazia) eye worms that infected humans worldwide", said lead author Richard Bradbury.

"It's very uncommon to have worms in the eye", Bonura said, especially in the United States.

The woman's case is indeed a breakthrough in parasitology, as the doctors claim this to be the first case of animal-to-human eye worms infection case.

Scientists said the disease is spread by "face flies" that feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball.

Abby lived in Grants Pass, Oregon, at a farm and she was surrounded by horses and cattle, so, in time she developed an adventurous spirit.

"I pulled down the bottom of my eye and noticed that my skin looked weird there". "I looked at it, and it was moving", Beckley recalled as she examined her eye in the mirror of her Alaskan fishing boat.

Dr. Erin Bonura, an infectious diseases specialist at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital, who treated Beckley in Portland, said the young woman was "amazing" in the way she handled the infection.

The worms were colorless and no longer than a half inch.

Beckley and her roommate initially believed the worm might have come from the salmon they work with, since those fish can often harbor parasites, reports Sandee LaMotte at CNN.

Eye worms are found in an assortment of creatures including mutts, felines and certain wild carnivores.

So, should Oregonians be concerned about getting worms in their eyes the next time they visit a farm?

Other worms from the Thelazia family have been reported in humans before but are rare, with just 160 recorded cases in Europe and Asia and 11 in the USA, according to Bradbury.

"I pulled that worm out and I just was shocked".

Human infections have been reported in parts of Asia as well as in Russia, Italy and in France.

Thelazia: What Are Parasitic Eye Worms? A week later, she pulled a small worm out of her eyeball. The researchers wrote, "Occasionally, the worms migrate across the surface of the eye and cause corneal scarring, opacity, and blindness". It was then when she started to suffer. "She was anxious they would crawl into her brain".

Her left eye got red and irritated and she also had strong migraines. "I'm hoping if this ever happens again, that that one person can Google this now and there will be a bunch of stories and they'll know, oh, this girl made it out okay".

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