CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. - A Nebraska woman visiting the Monterey Bay area got an unpleasant surprise after running through a swarm of flies on a trail near Carmel Valley.
According to the Washington Post, in February 2018 the 68-year-old woman was out for a run while visiting the area and came upon a swarm of flies. About a month later, one of her eyes started to bother her.
After rinsing it with water, what she found was not an eyelash or dust particle, but a half inch live worm, according to the Washington Post. Shortly after, she found another living in the space between her lower eyelid and eyeball.
After finding the two worms in March 2018, the woman went to an ophthalmologist in Monterey, who found a third worm and kept it to study.
When she returned to Nebraska, her eye was still irritated and both were inflamed, but a doctor did not find another worm. She later pulled out a fourth worm herself, and her symptoms cleared up about two weeks later, according to the Washington Post.
The case was part of a recent study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The parasitic eye worm is called Thelazia gulosa, and there has only been one other documented case in humans. According to the study, the parasites usually spread in cows. The authors of the study believe the flies she ran through were carrying the worm larvae and came in contact with her eyes.
The last reported case happened in southern Oregon in 2016. That woman had 14 worms taken out of her eye. Researchers said that even though there are only two cases in humans, the short period of time between them suggests that it could be an emerging disease, but researchers have not ruled out the possiblility that it was a fluke.