"No one had. That scared me", said Beckley. The case study about Beckley's ordeal was published on Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
After about a week, she reached up and pulled a small worm off of her eye, said Richard Bradbury, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher and lead author of a case report on the event. It has spread across Europe, but has not been found in North America.
Doctors believe Beckley was infected when a fly landed on her eye while she was traveling through cattle fields in southern OR, according to USA Today.
Abby Beckley is not a squeamish woman. Flies ingest worm larvae, land on an animal's eye, and feed on tears and other savory juices.
Cases of human eyeworms have been reported before.
12 years ago, this particular spread of eye worm in Europe was predicted from the southern part of the continent northwards based on the same evidence that led to these latest findings in NY.
This comes after an incident in summer of 2016, when she discovered worms were in her left eye.
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.
Visits to the doctor and a local ophthalmologist also proved fruitless.
She was from the city of Gold Beach, located on Oregon's coast along the Pacific Ocean about 40 miles (65 km) north of the California border.
She hopes her ordeal will help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. "It can be unnerving to pull worms from your eye, but she did it".
"But their presence in upstate NY suggests this geographic area is potentially suitable for spreading the eye worms that cause human infections in Europe and Asia".
"I was absolutely shocked", Beckley said.
During the last summer, she made a decision to have the adventure of her life, so she went for spending her summer on a salmon fishing boat in Alaska. "They had to remove them as they became present and visible". They narrowed it down to a Thelazia worm in about two weeks, but didn't realize it was the gulosa species until they were writing their paper months later. The worms cause inflammation but symptoms go away if they are removed.
For Abby Beckley, it started a year and a half ago with an irritated eye.
Beckley's treating physician, infectious disease specialist Erin Bonura, had already been in touch with the CDC specialists. Now the case study took on greater significance because this worm had never been found to infect humans. "This is incredibly interesting and I'm sure it might make some people squeamish, but it's not something people should worry about".