Woman loses eye to rare worm disease

Woman loses eye to rare worm disease

PHITSANULOK: A state official has gone permanently blind in one eye after contracting a rare disease caught through habitually eating uncooked food.

The 40-year-old official, whose name was withheld, is the province's first confirmed case of Angiostrongyliasis, also known as rat lungworm, according to Naresuan University Hospital (NUH). No more than 50 people worldwide have caught the disease, NUH said.

The case was announced at the university by doctors who treated the woman.

Dr Sirinan Triyavechakul, who supervises the case, said the woman complained of blurry vision for about a week before seeking treatment.

A close-up examination revealed an infected eye caused by the disease that typically affects the brain and spinal cord.

Dr Sirinan said the disease is most commonly found among people in the Northeast where Khon Kaen University's hospital has treated 18 patients with Angiostrongyliasis.

Dr Kanin Luengsawang, a specialist at the NUH, said the official was treated with anti-parasitic drugs and antibiotics. She underwent surgery in which a 0.5-cm parasite was removed from her eye. He said surgery failed to save the woman's sight in the infected eye which was severely damaged by the worm.

Dr Kanin said the worms are usually found in the lungs of rats. The worms' larvae are passed from the rats through their droppings. Once the worms mature, they find their way into freshwater shellfish and shrimps which are often made into popular dishes and eaten raw.

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