Oregon Woman Complained of Eye Irritation — What Doctors Discovered Made Medical History…

“It felt like when an eyelash is poking you,” is how 26-year-old Abby Beckley described what turned out to be a medical first.

Beckley, during a trip to Alaska, became irritated by the sensation of a hair or some small object in her left eye. At first she tried to deal with it, but after five days of continual irritation, she decided to take care of the problem, reports National Geographic.

“So one morning, I woke up and I was like, If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to get whatever the heck is in my eye out of there,” Beckley says. Pulling back her left eyelid, she squeezed the infected area and pulled on a small protrusion.

After removing the object, she looked at her finger and saw a small translucent worm twitching its last.

Beckley would then go on to pull more worms out shortly afterwards. Alarmed, she traveled to a hospital in Ketchikan, Alaska where she says doctors were “freaked out” over the infestation.

The young woman decided to return home to Oregon and was treated by the Oregon Health & Science University, where her boyfriend’s father worked.

It only took the medical team half an hour to spot the eye worms. They extracted one (but it broke apart) and sent the remains to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

“When you don’t know what it is, it ends up on our table,” Richard Bradbury, head of the CDC’s Parasitology Reference Diagnostic Laboratory, exclaimed to National Geographic.

“All these parasites are rare, and this one is extremely rare,” Bradbury stated. It was not until he had conferred with a 1928 German research paper that the CDC expert found the culprit.

Thelazia gulosa, a parasitic worm usually found in the eyes of cattle, was the larva of face flies.

It has never before been found in a human’s eye and has rarely traveled outside the bovine species.

NatGeo writes that the “worms are carried by face flies, which feed on the tears of cattle, horses, and dogs; you may have seen them persistently buzzing around an animal’s eyes.”

When the fly lands on an eyeball, it begins to drink the tears and it is then that the larvae travel along the proboscis of the fly and enter the eye.

In Beckley’s case, it is believed that the worms slipped into her eyes as she made her way through a cow pasture.

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