OR woman pulls more than a dozen small worms from her eye

Science								Image Source The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

An ophthalmologist found three more and over the course of a 20-day stay at the CDC, where the parasite was identified as a member of the Thelazia family, 14 more worms were extracted from her eye.

Abby Beckley, however, was discovered to be infected with Thelazia Gulosa, an eye worm species that affects only the cattle.

That worm is found throughout the northern US and southern Canada, but until now was never found to affect humans.

"Previously, it was thought that there were only two different species of these (Thelazia) eye worms that infected humans worldwide".

In a study published february 12 in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, researchers with the CDC reported that Beckley's infection came from face flies present in a local coastal area with a number of cattle farms.

A woman pulled 14 worms from her eye after getting an infection from a cow.

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Beckley suffered from severe eye irritation for a week, following which she pulled a worm from her eye.

Fearing a serious problem, Beckley got in contact with Dr. Erin Bonura, an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University.

All the worms were less than half an inch long.

Abbey Beckley, 28, had first spotted the creatures back in 2016 while working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska.

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

If the worms remain in a person's eye for a prolonged time, they can cause corneal scarring and even blindness, according to the researchers. Some of the worms were shipped to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory for analysis, where scientists confirmed they were members of the Thelazia gulosa species.

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Meanwhile, Beckley said she wants to get the word out about what she went through. If the worm died in the eye, it likely would have caused him to go blind.

When she arrived on shore five days later she dug out a live, wriggling worm. The larvae then hop a ride in face flies, and infect the next animal the flies visit. And when she checked into OHSU and a huge hospital full of doctors couldn't tell her what was wrong, "that was really hard", she said. As a rule, people affected by eye worms experience inflammation, along with the sensation that there is some foreign body in the eye.

Abby Beckley says, "I didn't lose any vision, nothing happened, it feels fine".

Meanwhile, another species of eye worm - Thelazia callipaeda - is reportedly spreading from Asia to Europe and is also transmitted by a common fruit fly, Phortica variegata. Later, she chose to look for a treatment.

Bonura consulted with Beckley over the phone at first, directing her to take the worm to a local physician to be tested.

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