Woman infected with eye worm known only in cattle

An Oregon woman has become the first person worldwide known to have had an eye infestation by a tiny worm species previously seen only in cattle, an indication that humans may be more vulnerable than previously thought to such infections.

OREGON (REUTERS) - Imagine having this translucent worm - 14 of them, in fact - in your eye.

That was what happened to a 26-year-old Oregon woman - the first known person worldwide to become infected with a parasitic worm species previously seen only in cattle.

The finding was first published on Monday (Feb 12).

The parasitic worms - known as the Thelazia gulosa species - are less than half an inch long each and until now have spread solely among cattle by flies that feed on eyeball lubrication.

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control said the woman was likely exposed to the infection through outdoor summer activities.

If the worms remain in a person's eye for a prolonged time, they can cause corneal scarring or even blindness.

The study's lead author said it was thought there were only two different species of eye worms that infected humans worldwide - Thelazia gulosa is now the third.