US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention scientists said 14 translucent parasitic worms of the species Thelazia gulosa, all less than half an inch (1.27 cm) long, were extracted from the 26-year-old woman´s eye over a 20-day period before her symptoms dissipated. The major difference being that these face flies, as they're known, love to gobble down on other animals' bodily fluids for nourishment, especially their tears, where they inadvertently pick up eye worm larvae. Beckley's ordeal is also only the 11th recorded case of any Thelazia infection, or thelaziasis, to have occurred in the United States, and the first to be seen outside California or Utah. Over two weeks, doctors removed 13 more.
She had been horseback riding and fishing in Gold Beach, Oregon, a coastal, cattle-farming area.
"I was just pulling these worms out of my eye and there was 14 of them", said Beckley. Until now, it has never been seen in a human eye.
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If the worms move across the surface of the eye, they can scar the cornea and even cause blindness, the doctors noted in the case report. They can be spread by different kinds of flies.
According to Richard Bradbury, of the CDC - who is the lead author on the paper that published the case study, people who get these eye worms experience inflammation and the sensation that there is some type of foreign body in the eye.
"My hope is that if this ever happens again, that someone could Google this and find all these articles now", said Beckley.
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The worms were all removed manually - 6 by doctors, and the remaining 8 by the patient herself, over the space of several days.
Previously, only 10 cases of thelaziasis, the infection caused by Thelazia, had been reported in the U.S., and all had ended up being the result of Thelazia californiensis worms.
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