A 26-year-old woman felt something in her left eye. For days, she couldn’t shake the sensation. A week later she pulled a centimeter long translucent worm from her eye.
The Oregon resident became the first ever reported case of a human infestation with the cattle eyeworm, Thelazia gulosa.
Over 20 days, she and her doctors removed 14 worms from her infected eye, researchers report online February 12 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. After that, no more irritation.
T. gulosa is a nematode found in North America, Europe, Australia and central Asia. It infects the large, watchful eyes of cattle with it spread by the aptly named face fly. And this was not expected to be seen in a human.
But the young woman had been horseback riding near cattle farms in Gold Beach, Oregon, which may explain her face-to-face with the fly.
This is another example how disease unexpectedly makes the jump from animal species to humans, with names of diseases coming to mind as bird flu, swine flu, and recently ebola.
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