U.S. woman first to be infected with 14 eye worms

U.S. woman first to be infected with 14 eye worms

Back in 2016, Beckley had 14 tiny worms removed from her left eye.

A few weeks later, she started to have the sensation that something was in her eye.

It was a worm. About a week later, she removed a small, translucent worm. "It was alive and squiggling around", she recalled. The 26-year-old was working as summer deckhand on a commercial fishing boat near Prince of Wales Island in Alaska at the time. Doctors there pulled out 13 more, and weren't sure what to do. An ophthalmologist pulled out another two. Could she lose her vision?

If you think that sounds creepy, just wait till you hear how the worms got in there in the first place. Eventually, her boyfriend called Oregon Health and Science University's infectious disease hotline.

The parasites are relatively harmless, as they don't have the ability to reproduce or to wiggle into the brain from the eyeball.

U.S. student Abby Beckley, 28, began experiencing eye irritation and migraines in 2016.

An Oregon woman found herself infected with 14 parasitic worms in her eyeballs. Scientists reported the case Monday.

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. Instead, it was the cattle eye worm, known as Thelazia gulosa.

It's an incredibly rare medical event, as the parasitic worms typically live on the surfaces of cows' eyes. The larva mature for a bit in the fly's gut, then migrate to the fly's mouth, where they're spit back out into some other animal's unsuspecting ocular orifice and can begin the cycle of life anew. Yum!

"The baby worms then grow into larger larvae inside the fly", Bradbury says. "It's very uncommon to have worms in the eye", Bonura said. In more serious cases, they can cause scarring of the cornea and even blindness.

Previous cases of such eye worm infections have been reported worldwide, predominantly in Europe and Asia and in rural communities with close proximity to animals and with poor living standards, the researchers said.

Photos of Beckley's inflamed eye and one of her eye worms are now part of the official CDC Thelazia page.

A woman from the state of OR is now part of medical history.

She was from the city of Gold Beach, located on Oregon's coast along the Pacific Ocean about 65km north of the California border.