United States woman first to be infected with 14 eye worms

OHSU via AP

An Oregon woman became the first human ever to be infected by a type of eye worm previously seen only in cattle after 14 "Thelazia gulosa" worms were removed from her eye, reports said Monday.

Nobody should panic, however. Her vision is back to normal and the worms have left no lasting damage, except for psychological scars.

Other worms from the Thelazia family have been reported in humans before but are rare, with just 160 recorded cases in Europe and Asia and 11 in the United States, according to Bradbury.

Exciting? I'm not sure that's the right word, at least from the public's perspective.

Abby Beckley thought her left eye was irritated because of a stray eyelash.

Standing at the mirror in the galley, [Beckley] plucked at her eyeball, as if extracting a contact lens. "I said to the doctors, 'Look now!"

Actually, it wasn't fish, it was worms ― 14 of them.

"When the ophthalmology people checked me out, they said, 'this is probably mucous, '" Beckley recalled.

Beckley flew home and went to see specialists at the Oregon Science and Health Laboratory in Portland.

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

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Humans have been infected by dog eye worms before. However, eye worms infections in humans are very rare as only 11 cases were recorded in North America and only 163 cases in Asia and Europe.

They move from eye to eye by hitching a ride in face flies that drink tears, typically in the Musca genera of flies.

Abby Beckley suffered the disgusting condition, which is called Thelazia gulosa, after living on an OR ranch and coming into contact with the parasites.

She told Fox 12: 'So I pulled my eye kind of down like this and I looked in that bottom little crevice and I was like something looks wrong, maybe I have a piece of fuzz stuck there.

A 28-year-old OR woman named Abbey Beckley's nightmare began when she was working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska in the summer of 2016, when she felt what she thought was an eyelash in her eyeball.

How did she keep her calm during that process? "It's so gross to think about, but it was happening to me". "But I would try to self-soothe and put it in perspective". "There were so many", Beckley tells LaMotte. Nor, fortunately, has she seen any more worms.

Despite it being almost two years later, Beckley's story is just coming to light after the CDC used her infection as a case study published Monday.

"If this does happen to anyone else, I want them to know this girl went through it, and she's fine", she said.

'If this does happen again, I'm hoping my story will be out there for the next person to find'.

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