A California jogger found parasitic worms in her eyes — which scientists fear could now be an “emerging” disease in the US, according to a new study.
The 68-year-old woman said she found a half-inch wriggly roundworm when she flushed her irritated eye after jogging in Carmel Valley, according to the scientific journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.
She then noticed a second worm, which she removed — with a third one getting taken out by an eye doctor in Monterey who preserved it in formaldehyde, the study said, according to a report on Live Science.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then confirmed it was species Thelazia gulosa, a parasitic worm previously thought to only infect cows, according to the report.
It was only the second time it had been found in a human — with the first case also in the US, with a 26-year-old Oregon woman infected in Aug. 2016.
The two cases “suggest[s] that this may represent an emerging zoonotic disease in the United States” the authors wrote, referring to diseases spread between animals and humans.
The latest case also showed eggs developing, “indicating that humans are suitable hosts for the reproduction of T. gulosa,” the authors wrote, according to Live Science.
While the worms have been known to infect cows in the US since the 1940s, it is not clear why they are now spreading to humans.
The woman, who splits her time between Nebraska and California, believes she got infected during a jog in the Golden State in February last year when she ran into a swarm of flies, the report says.
It left her “swatting the flies from her face and spitting them out of her mouth,” the report said.
She finally solved the problem by regularly flushing her eyes for a fortnight and did not need special treatment, the study said.