Symptoms usually resolve after the worms are removed.
"I looked at my finger and it was moving and I was shocked".
"There were 14 of them total, and I was the only one that was able to successfully pick them out". That lab sent two worms to CDC's parasitic diseases lab in Atlanta. Some of them were pretty long, about half the length of a paper clip. Doctors either tweezed them out or flushed them out of the eye, the researchers reported. She had recently started work on a fishing boat in Alaska when her eye first began to feel irritated, as if there was an eye lash she couldn't remove.
Transmission is facilitated by female flies of the Musca and Fannia subgroups, which are known to feed on protein-rich eye secretion of animals. So for 20 days, she pulled live worms out of her eye.
Several eye worms from the OR case were sent to the federal agency's parasitic disease laboratory where they were identified as cattle eye worms OR Thelazia gulosa. The lab receives an average of 6670 specimens a year, virtually all from within the United States.
A woman in the USA has become the first person ever to be infected with a rare microscopic eye worm that was previously only found in cattle.
"In general, flies are attracted to the moisture and salt in our tears, said Schuetz, who wasn't involved with the study". One fly carrying cattle eyeworm larvae may have briefly landed on the patient's eye.
The moral of the story is pretty clear, he says: "When you see flies around your face, swat them away before they land near your eyes". In this instance, the woman might have been too distracted while riding horseback to free a hand and shoo the fly off.
The CDC confirmed the worms were part of a group of eye worms known as Thelazia, but the scientists did not know which species.
Eyeworms infect a variety of animals - from livestock to household pets - but human hosts are rare.
While this infection is likely extremely rare, according to a press release, another species of Thelazia eye worm has spread across Europe in recent years, carried by fruit flies.
This is the first record of the creepy crawly in humans, and it means Americans may be more vulnerable than previously believed. In severe cases, worms can scar the cornea and even cause blindness.
This study's author, Domenico Otranto, said: "We're not sure of the exact distribution of these fruit flies in North America, but their presence in upstate NY suggests this geographic area is potentially suitable for spreading the eye worms that cause human infections in Europe and Asia".
The study was published February 12 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine.