Doctors remove 14 cattle worms from woman's eye

She has made medical history, say scientists

An Oregon woman whose left eye was teeming with tiny translucent worms is believed to be the first person to develop a parasitic infestation previously seen only in cattle.

Fourteen translucent parasitic worms of the species Thelazia gulosa, all less than 1.27cm long, were extracted from the 26-year-old woman's eye over 20 days, according to a statement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The worm, also known as cattle eyeworm, is spread by flies that feed on tears. 

The researchers said the woman noticed a worm in her left eye after experiencing irritation and thinking it was a stray eyelash.

She pulled the live worm from her eye before seeking medical attention.

Scientists from the CDC's division of parasitic diseases and malaria say the worms can cause corneal scarring and even blindness.

Similar human infection with other species have been reported in parts of Asia, Russia, Italy and France.

There have been 10 other cases of eye worm infections in the US. However, this is the first to involve T. gulosa.

A case study was published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene