A U.S. woman who pulled worms out of her own eye has become the first known human case of a parasitic infection that normally affects cattle.
Fourteen tiny worms were removed from the left eye of Abby Beckley in August 2016. "Cases of eye worm parasitic infections are rare in the US, and this case turned out to be a species of the Thelazia that had never been reported in humans", said study lead author Richard Bradbury, who works with the CDC´s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.
The woman was diagnosed in August 2016 with Thelazia gulosa, a type of eye worm seen in the northern United States and southern Canada - but only in cattle.
The woman's case, reported in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene yesterday, began in the summer of 2015 in the U.S., soon after she returned home from a ranch in Gold Beach, Oregon, where she had been horseback riding.
Beckley first reported sensing an irritant in her left eye.
Doctor tried tweezer-like forceps as well as irrigating the infected eye to remove the worms, but only managed to remove a portion of one worm.More news: Woman suffering from rare disease, wakes with British accent
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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".
More commonly, thelaziasis occurs in animals such as cats, dogs and foxes, spread by different types of flies.
Thelazia worms are spread by species of flies that look pretty much like your typical house fly.
"This patient's outdoor pastimes of riding horses and fishing during the summer months likely allowed exposure to vector face flies, and she may have delayed brushing away of these flies from her face", the authors wrote.
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.