What your patient might ask you…

Have you ever seen a patient with a worm in their eye?

The Huffington Post wrote an article about a disease that affects roughly 10 million people.  It’s called Loiasis, or the African eye worm and it’s endemic in certain rainforest areas in Central and West Africa.

The highlights:

  • It’s transmitted by the deer fly or horse fly – they only bite during the day so mosquito nets at night don’t help.
  • The treatment is Diethylcarbamazine but it can make it worse if the patient also has river blindness (caused by a different type of worm). In the US, it is only available from the CDC.
  • Most infected people are asymptomatic but some have areas of angioedema which occur mainly on the extremities.
  • Eventually the infection may clear up on its own, but it takes years for all the worms to die off naturally and in the meantime they could get reinfected by another bite.

Here is a video of one swimming around in the eye. (If you just ate, maybe wait a sec.)

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