14 cattle worms found in OR woman's eye

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Two summers ago, OR resident Abby Beckley found herself standing in front of a mirror on an Alaskan fishing boat, pulling tiny worms out of her eye.

"Instances of eye worm parasitic contaminations are uncommon in the U.S., and this case ended up being a types of the Thelazia that had never been accounted for in people", said think about lead creator Richard Bradbury, who works with the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists, this species of Thelazia worm was previously seen in cattle throughout the northern United States and southern Canada.

Moreover, according to Beckley's doctors, these parasites are transmitted by the so-called face flies, tiny insects that feed on tears.

She may be the first human to have this type of eye infection, a scientific report said. Beckley had been out horseback riding and fishing in Gold Beach, Oregon, which is a cattle-farming region.

All cattle worms were successfully removed from Beckley's eye.

The worms were translucent and no longer than a half-inch.

"They couldn't find the worms", she says.

"Parasitic eye worms" which are commonly found in dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, goats, and wild carnivores like foxes and wolves have now entered the human eye.

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When asked, to what extent is this worm vulnerable, the researchers said that if the worms stay in a person's eye for a prolonged time, then corneal scarring and permanent eyesight lose can happen.

"We immediately thought it could be Thelazia californiensis because that is the only species that was known to infect humans in the USA", said Bradbury. (For example, one little worm in sub-Saharan Africa, called Onchocerca volvulus, causes river blindness and infects about 37 million people worldwide).

Beckley, who had been around cattle and horses in the weeks before her worms were discovered, now holds the dubious honour of being the only recorded case of being infected by this type of parasite. "Here, we have someone who developed this unusual infection, and the physicians were interested enough to send the materials to the CDC, where they have extraordinary diagnostic abilities".

An image of the eye worm Thelazia gulosa immediately after removal from the eye.

"They were great", Beckley said. A week later, she pulled a small worm out of her eyeball.

This family of worms causes pus to pour out of the cow's eye.

"[I was concerned] that it would affect my vision, paralyze my face, or get into my brain somehow", she said. "I was getting migraines too, and I was like, 'What is going on?'" She then showed it to her crewmate, because you definitely need witnesses when it comes to unbelievable things like this.

FMI: The case report was published online in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, where it can be read in full.

She pulled down her eyelid and grabbed a clear, thread-like material from underneath her eyeball.

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