WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 68-year-old California woman was found to be infected with a parasitic worm in her eye after coming from a trail run.
- Case authors of a new report wrote that this is the second human case to be documented since the first reported case in 2016.
- Researchers confirmed from a worm sample analysis that the four worms pulled from the woman’s eye are roundworms called T.gulosa which is known to infect cattle.
A woman who discovered a worm in her eye after trail running in California is the second human to be documented to have contracted a rare infection of an ocular parasite called Thelazia gulosa, said study authors of a new case report published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Finding her eye irritated after her run, the 68-year-old unnamed woman flushed it with water to relieve the irritation and was horrified to discover a half-inch long wriggly worm in her eye. After removing it, she was appalled to find another worm in her eye that she was able to remove.
Too bad, the unusual episode didn’t stop there. When she went to see an eye doctor in California the next day, the doctor pulled a third worm in her eye. About a month later, she retrieved the fourth and last worm from the same eye.
Based on the preserved worm sample sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the analysis confirmed that the woman was infected with Thelazia gulosa, a roundworm also known as a nematode that usually infects cows.
According to LiveScience, Thelazia eyeworms are transmitted between animals by certain species of face flies that consume eye secretions.
Although contracting this worm is extremely rare, the case study authors wrote that having a second human infection case within two years of the first case suggests that the disease may be spreading.
“This may represent a newly emerging zoonotic disease in the United States,” wrote the authors.
Researchers also wrote “humans are suitable hosts for the reproduction of T. gulosa” after discovering eggs developing in the woman’s eye.
While the discoveries are harrowing, LiveScience indicated that the worms can be removed with an anti-parasitic drug that treats eye worms.
In 2016, at least 14 worms were removed from a 26-year-old Oregon woman’s eyes, making her the first person to be infected by this worm species.