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Brain-eating worm removed from Tampa man’s eye

Sam Cordero couldn’t shake the feeling he was living with an invader.

“I see like a little black dot and it’s only on the left eye. So I see something moving from left to right,” Cordero told Tampa Bay’s WFTS.

Turns out Cordero had a brain-eating parasitic worm living in his left eye. The parasite swam through Cordero’s bloodstream from his stomach up into his eye.

The culprit? Undercooked pork Cordero said he ate around Christmas.

Within a month, he started seeing black dots in his field of vision. That was the worm, said Tampa General Hospital’s Dr. Don Perez.

According to the doctor, if the parasite had died, the resulting inflammation could have blinded the man. If it had lived, some of its 50,000 eggs could have traveled to his brain where they would have eaten into the tissue, turning his brain into “Swiss cheese” and leading to seizures, WFTS reported.

Perez recently performed surgery to remove the tapeworm from Cordero’s eye by taking out three millimeters of the worm that was already fertilized with tens of thousands of eggs. Perez said there are about 20 documented cases worldwide of pork tapeworms and human eyes. This was his second removal, following a 2012 case.

Thelazia gulosa AP image

This undated photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows Thelazia gulosa, a type of eye worm seen in cattle in the northern United States and southern Canada, but never before in humans. until an Oregon woman had worms coming out of her eye in 2016. Scientists reported the case Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention AP

More recently, an Oregon woman pulled a translucent, wiggling worm from her eye that was half an inch long. She thought it was a pesky eyelash. There were 13 more, The Associated Press reported.

Abby Beckley’s conjunctival infestation by 14 eye worms in 2016 was published Monday as a case study by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. These worms were identified as Thelazia gulosa, which have been implicated in causing human disease.

Cordero’s eye worm was identified as Taenia Solium, more commonly called a pork tapeworm, and also rare.


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