How 14 worms were removed from woman's eye

Pauline Gross
February 15, 2018

What a woman thought as an ordinary eye inflammation is actually an infection that only occurs among cattle.

Even more, only two species are involved in humans infections, namely the Californiensis (Thelazia Parasite - it affected 11 people in North America) and the Callipaeda (infected people in Asia and Europe).

"A total of 14 worms were removed from her left eye over 20 days", Richard Bradbury, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher and lead author of a case report on the event said. But now, Thelazia gulosa is the third.

"We never expected to see this particular species in a human", Bradbury said.

Scientists said the disease is spread by "face flies" that feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball. Before coming down with the condition, Beckley declared that she spent some time at the Golden Beach, a coastal and farming area, fishing and riding horses.

This comes after an incident in summer of 2016, when she discovered worms were in her left eye.

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"I put my fingers in there in kind of a picking motion and I pulled out a worm", Beckley told BuzzFeed. At times, she said, they would go under the eyelid or behind the eye and for a time would no longer be visible.

A half-inch worm, to be exact. "Between the first worm I pulled out and then the doctor's appointment, I had seen about four, so I knew there wasn't just one", she explains.

Eye worms can be found in a range of animals, including cats, dogs, and wild carnivores like foxes.

Scientists reported the case of the first known instance of a human infection with Thelazia gulosa, a type of eye worm found throughout the northern United States and southern Canada. The woman remembers hoping and praying the worms would surface so, the doctors could gain a visual. She urged to the local doctor and to an ophthalmologist but had no luck.

The worms are transmitted by face flies, which carry the larvae in their mouth parts, said Dr. Audrey Schuetz, an associate professor of pathology with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She removed a lot of them herself. I ran into my crewmate Allison's room, and I said, 'I need you to see this! "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".

It was only months later that the researchers realised that the worm was a Thelazia gulosa - a type of parasite previously only found in cattle. Only 160 cases - linked to species of Thelazia other than the one discovered in OR - have been reported in Europe and Asia, where the worms are more common, Bradbury said.

Other reports by GizPress

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