Oregon Woman Makes Case History with Worms in Eyes

Oregon Woman Makes Case History with Worms in Eyes

An Oregon woman has made case history, being the first human to be diagnosed with a rare parasitic infection that usually occurs in cattle, dogs, and cats. They said the study indicates that North Americans may be more vulnerable than previously understood to such infections.

A total of 14 worms - all less than half an inch long - were extracted from the woman's conjunctiva and the surface of her eye over a two-week period before her symptoms ceased, reported the study, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Beckley was infested with an eye worm species called Thelazia gulosa.

Eye worms that had previously only manifested themselves in the eyes of cattle, have infected a human for the first time. It never find before in humans.

The disease is spread by "face flies" that flock to and feed on tears lubricating the eyeball, scientists say.

CDC experts suspect that the OR woman picked up the infection while horse riding OR fishing in OR over the summer.

"I pulled down the bottom of my eye and noticed that my skin looked weird there".

"I just kept pulling the worms out of my eye at home, but when I went into the office, they would flush, and nothing would come out", Beckley told CNN. "Dr. Bonura was so willing to just talk with me and was really empathetic to what I was going through as the person who had this thing in her eye".

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At first, she thought it was a salmon worm, and she saw doctors. After spending time fishing and horseback riding in a rural area, the woman discovered that she had tiny worms in her eyes.

Expert Richard Bradbury said: "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".

So what caused the worms to play house in Beckley's eyes? That larvae then need to hop back on board a face fly to complete its complicated life cycle.

The worms cause inflammation and irritation in the infected eye, but symptoms often go away once the parasite is removed.

Two other species of Thelazia - callipaeda and californiensis - were already known to infect humans, but mostly in Europe and Asia and in places with poor living conditions and where people live in close daily contact with animals.

Several eye worms from the OR case were sent to the federal agency's parasitic disease laboratory where they were identified as cattle eye worms OR Thelazia gulosa. "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".

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