'I Looked at It. It Was Moving' Woman Pulls Worms From Eyes

Oregon woman plagued by parasite that plagues cattle
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2018 12:33 AM CST
Eye Parasite Spotted in Human for First Time
This August 2016 photo provided by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) shows inflammation (in the circle) from the infection caused by "Thelazia gulosa."   (OHSU via AP)

An Oregon woman who had worms coming out of her eye is being called the first known human case of a parasitic infection spread by flies. Fourteen tiny worms were removed from the left eye of the 26-year-old woman in August 2016. Scientists reported the case Monday. The woman, Abby Beckley, was diagnosed with Thelazia gulosa. That's a type of eye worm seen in cattle in the northern US and southern Canada, but never before in humans, the AP reports. They're spread by a type of fly known as "face flies." The flies feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball, scientists say. Beckley had been horseback riding and fishing in Gold Beach, Ore., a coastal cattle-farming area.

After a week of eye irritation, Beckley pulled a worm from her eye. "I looked at it, and it was moving," she tells CNN. "And then it died within about five seconds." She visited doctors, but she removed most of the additional worms herself during the following few weeks. The worms were translucent and each less than half an inch long. After they were removed, no more worms were found and she had no additional symptoms. Two other types of Thelazia eye worm infections had been seen in people before, but never this kind, according to Richard Bradbury of the CDC, lead author of a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

(Read more parasite stories.)

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