A 68-year-old woman felt an irritation in her right eye, so she flushed it out with water. That’s when she noticed a worm.
A 1.3 centimeter round worm came out of her eye. As she looked closer, she saw another, which she removed by hand.
Worried, she went to the doctor the next day. He pulled out a third worm and gave her some medication. She went home, but found a fourth parasite in her eye, LiveScience reported.
The woman’s case was referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which diagnosed the parasitic worms.
This is just the second known case of human conjunctival infestation of Thelazia gulosa, or cattle eye worm.
T. gulosa is called the “cattle eye worm” because it usually affects cattle and is carried by flies that ingest eye secretions. It is extremely rare in humans, LiveScience reported.
According to her case report, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the woman had gone for a run along the California coast and encountered a swarm of flies, which she ran through.
The study’s authors say T. gulosa may be on the rise in livestock, making it a growing “zoonotic disease,” or diseases spread from animals to humans.
Abby Beckley was the first person diagnosed with a cattle eye worm infection. In 2016 she had 14 of the tiny worms removed from her eye.
Health officials say the parasites can cause serious eye damage and even blindness. Both women appear to have recovered from their infections with no permanent problems.
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