OR woman, doctors finds 14 worms in her eye

OR woman, doctors finds 14 worms in her eye

Thelazia gulosa in situ on the surface of a patient's conjunctiva (circle).

In fact, the CDC says she's the first person worldwide to have cattle flies infect her eyes.

"It was squiggling around on my finger", Beckley said. He and his colleagues published the case Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

"This is only the 11th time a person has been infected by eye worms in North America", lead author Richard Bradbury, who heads the CDC's Parasite Diagnostics and Biology Laboratory, told CNN.

It means that North Americans may actually be more vulnerable than previously thought to such infections.

A tiny worm species till now only seen in cattle has been found inside the eye of a USA woman for the first time.

Most people avoid contracting eye worms because they wave away flies that land on their face, Bradbury said.

Sometimes the worms reproduce on the surface of the cow's eye and the larvae is stored in tears.

Luckily, the cattle eyeworm can't easily reproduce in humans - and didn't in Beckley's case. Maybe a common but harmless salmon worm had fallen into her eye. Suppose the shock of looking into an irritated eye for an annoying eyelash or other cumbersome irritation, only to pull out a limpid, wiggling worm almost a half-inch long.

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists said 14 translucent parasitic worms of the species Thelazia gulosa, all less than half an inch (1.27 cm) long, were extracted from the 26-year-old woman's eye over a 20-day period before her symptoms dissipated.

Visits to the doctor and a local ophthalmologist also proved fruitless. She'd been riding horses in Gold Beach near a cattle farm. Bonura met her at the OHSU Emergency Department and worked with other OHSU staff to help Beckley find some relief. Doctors there pulled out 13 more, and weren't sure what to do.

The woman's eyelid was inflamed after being infected by eye worms known as Thelazia gulosa.


Soon after returning from her trip, Beckley recalls her eyes were itching badly.

"When I was going through it, it was like, there were parts of it that were so strangely comical", she told the station.

Meanwhile, Bonura was frantically working with the CDC and Northwest Pathology to identify these unusual worms, samples of which had been sent to Bradbury's CDC lab in Atlanta. They are often called "eyeworms", and infestation with Thelazia species is referred to as "thelaziasis" (occasionally spelled "thelaziosis").

For days, the woman's left eye felt irritated.

Though infectious diseases can be spread anywhere, another case like this isn't likely.