A US woman has become the world’s first human to have an infestation in her eye, caused by a type of worm that was previously found only in cattle. The tiny worm is spread by flies that feed themselves on eyeball lubricants, said US researchers. Scientists from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 14 translucent parasitic worms of the species Thelazia gulosa, were taken out from the woman’s eye for over 20 days before they degenerated. All worms were less than half an inch long.
This species of the worm was earlier found in cattle in northern USA and south of Canada, according to the researchers. If the worms remain inside a person’s eye for a long period of time, they might cause scars in the cornea and can even lead to blindness.
"Cases of eye worm parasitic infections are rare in the USA, and this case turned out to be a species of the Thelazia that had never been reported in humans," said Richard Bradbury, the study’s lead author who works with the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.
According to Bradbury, it was thought that there were only two different species of eye worms that could infect humans, but the Thelazia gulosa is now the third.The victim often went outdoors during the summer that exposed her to the infection. Eye worms are also found in a wide variety of animals including dogs, cats and certain wild carnivores.