Abby Beckley, a 28-years-old from Grants Pass, Oregon, lived the shock of her life when, one day, she pulled a translucent worm out of her eye. They said the study indicates that North Americans may be more vulnerable than previously understood to such infections.
Two other types of Thelazia eye worm infections had been seen in people before, but never this kind, according to Richard Bradbury of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Previously, only 10 cases of thelaziasis, the infection caused by Thelazia, had been reported in the U.S., and all had ended up being the result of Thelazia californiensis worms. It happened in August, 2016 but was just reported by scientists this week. Two weeks later, she reportedly started feeling a unusual sensation in her eye.
She first felt a irritation in her left eye, along with the nagging feeling that something was stuck in it.
A parasitic eye worm called Thelazia gulosa is pretty common in the northern United States and southern Canada - at least in cows.
These eye worms are spread by flies that feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball.
They are spread by a type of fly known as "face flies".
The woman had been horseback riding in Gold Beach, Oregon, in a cattle farming area.
She ended up pulling 14 worms out of her eye.
Initially, the doctors thought Beckley could be infected with Thelazia californiensis because that is the only species that was known to infect humans in the US.
If the worms move across the surface of the eye, they can scar the cornea and even cause blindness, the doctors noted in the case report.
"My hope is that if this ever happens again, that someone could Google this and find all these articles now", said Beckley.
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