Medical sensation: Doctors remove 14 worms from a woman's eye
In the United States, doctors removed 14 worms from a woman's eye. The sensational thing about it: it was the first time that the type of eyeworm that normally occurs in cattle was observed in humans.
Worms in the eyes
It is not exactly everyday, but it happens from time to time that worms are discovered in people's eyes. In the past year, for example, a teenager in Mexico had had a living worm operated on her from the eye, which had caused serious visual damage to the boy. The previous year, a video on the Internet caused a sensation, on which a woman with a living worm could be seen. However, the case in which several worms were removed from the eye of a woman from the United States is a medical sensation, because the type of worm was first observed in humans.
Abby Beckley, Oregon, was fishing in Alaska when she felt something in her left eye.
"It felt like a pounding eyelash," she told National Geographic magazine. But the 26-year-old could not find any hair and was annoyed by the foreign body sensation in the eye for days until she finally pulled back her eyelid and pulled on the inflamed skin underneath.
When she looked at her hand, she found: "There was a worm on my finger." As doctors later found, this was not just a worm, but the eye worm Thelazia gulosa, which actually only affects cattle.
The American was thus the first person in the world to be infected with this worm, is reported in the specialist magazine "American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene".
Expert used 90 years of research from Germany
However, when the 26-year-old stared at the worm in her hand in the summer of 2016, she knew nothing of the sensation.
The small, almost transparent parasite wiggled for a few seconds and then died. Since Beckley had seen similar looking worms in salmon, she thought at first that she might have accidentally stuck the little creature in her eye.
But the one worm didn't stop there; As she found more and more of it, the woman went to a doctor in Alaska, who could not say if the worms were dangerous.
So she decided to return to her home in Portland, Oregon, and went to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), where ophthalmologists managed to get one of the worms out of Beckley's eye and send it to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CDC director Richard Bradbury said, according to National Geographic, "If you don't know what it is, it ends up on our table."
Regarding the find in Beckley's eye, he said: "All these parasites are rare, and this is extremely rare." According to the information, he had to dig up a German research project from 1928 in order to finally identify the species as Thelazia gulosa.
It was the third type of thelazia that appeared in a human eye along with one in Asia and one in California.
The patient is fine again
The worms are transmitted by facial flies that feed on the tears of cattle, horses and dogs.
How the worms got into Beckley's eyes is still a mystery, but Oregon Health & Science University infection expert Erin Bonura suspects it could have happened when she walked across pastures.
Over the course of 20 days, Beckley had 14 worms removed from her eye. Nevertheless, the doctors involved in the case agree that these eye worms do not pose an imminent danger to public health.
Beckley's worms have left no lasting damage. In fact, a year and a half later, she found it difficult to remember which eye the worms had been in. (ad)