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Tongue Worm in Human Eye

A case report (and video) of the worm-like, bloodsucking parasite Linguatula serrata found in organ meats that can migrate through the intestinal wall, into the bloodstream, and then inside one’s eyeball.

June 13, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to Dennis Tappe and Dietrich W. Büttner.

Transcript

Let me start by saying this one is not for the squeamish.
For years I’ve shared many a foodborne malady. When people think foodborne illness they think tummy flu, Not, toxin megacolon… or sexually transmitted fish toxins, or any of the other bizarre case reports I run across of things one can contract at the dinner table. Well this year, published recently in the official CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, I think I found something that takes the cake.
 It wasn’t the sushi worm found living in someone's stomach, or the swallowed fish bone that came poking out. No, it was Linguatula serrate, tongue worm in human eye.
Evidently if we prefer our viscera poorly cooked we can swallow eggs that hatch within our intestines into worm-like bloodsucking parasites that burrow out through the intestinal wall and then migrate throughout the body. Rarely, they can tunnel into the eye. And when they say tongue worm in human eye, they mean like literally swimming around inside the eyeball, and yes, they've got video:

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Other not-for-the-squeamish videos include Cheese Mites and Maggots, Toxic Megacolon Superbug, Brain Parasites in Meat, Allergenic Fish Worms, and Pork Tapeworms on the Brain. The one I mentioned about the fish toxins that spread through intercourse is Sexually Transmitted Fish Toxin. If, however, that's not your cup of tea then there's more than a thousand other topics including 21 videos on cups of tea!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Other not-for-the-squeamish videos include Cheese Mites and Maggots, Toxic Megacolon Superbug, Brain Parasites in Meat, Allergenic Fish Worms, and Pork Tapeworms on the Brain. The one I mentioned about the fish toxins spread through intercourse is Sexually Transmitted Fish Toxin. If, however, that’s not your cup of tea, then there’s more than a thousand other topics including 21 videos on cups of tea!

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Fascinating to say the least!!

      • Stefan Juhl M.D.

        Always worry when your doc says “This is fascinating”……. :-)

        • Fiddler

           Or, “sometimes we see that…”

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.

          Dr. J,
          Yes, for many years I have told my patients you always want to be ‘boring/Normal’ when you go to the doctor.   You never want to hear, “Wow, you are a fascinating case!” or, “I have never seen anything this bad before.”
          Or the proverbial, “Oops” during a procedure, but to see a parasite swimming around in the anterior chamber of the eye is truly astonishing.  It will sure make me think twice when I get another patient c/o “bugs” in their eyes, which are usually a normal part of aging (floaters).

          • Stefan Juhl M.D.

            Dr Dynamic,
            Yes – for the patient boring is better. A patient reminded me yesterday, that I last time called her seizures “interesting”….

            Yes – never thought that a differential diagnosis for mouches volantes is worm in the eye….

            Go vegan!

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Dr. G,  Love the Artistic Radioactive artwork of Ketchup and Mustard atop the Charbroiled Pink-Slime sandwich.
      I give it “Glowing” reviews ;-}

      • Stefan Juhl M.D.

        Is it just me? I see a scary face !

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.

          I see it too!  I think it is just a broken Caduceus with a SAD (Standard American Diet) face.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670735069 Tan Truong

        LOL, I noticed that hazard symbol too. Genius.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    Something fascinating as well is the Paul Harvey of the story:

    Surgical removal of the parasite was complicated because of high mobility of the parasite inside the anterior chamber. The worm escaped into the posterior segment of the eye where it was found, after lens removal and complete vitrectomy, in a recess of the ciliary body. A viable parasite was extracted and transferred to physiologic saline. One month later, the eye was completely free of irritation, and 3 months later an artificial intraocular lens (ARTISAN; OPHTEC BV, Groningen, the Netherlands) was implanted. Final visual acuity was 1.0 Snellen.
    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/17/5/10-0790_article.htm

    And that is The Rest of the Story.  Quite impressive actually!

  • Southbaysteve

    Hi Drs.. Ok… All of this is “fascinating”? Sure, for you. All I have to say is ewwww…. And ya, it could have been avoided. I am certain that this is not the bright lights and 15 minutes of fame that this person wanted. Just my $0.02.