WATCH: Removing 19cm-long Worm From Man’s Eye

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Loa loa filariasis (also known as loiasis, loaiasis, Calabar swellings, Fugitive swelling, Tropical swelling and African eyeworm) is a skin and eye disease caused by the nematode worm, loa loa.

Life cycle
Loa loa worms have a simple body consisting of a head, body, and tail. Males range from 20mm to 34mm long and 350μm to 430μm wide. Females range from 20mm to 70mm long and can be about 425μm wide. They vary in color.

Signs and symptoms
It usually takes about 5 months for larvae (transferred from a fly) to mature into adult worms—in which they can only do so inside the human body. The most common display of infection is the localized allergic inflammations called Calabar or Cameroon swellings that signify the migration of the adult worm in the tissues away from the injection site by the vector. The migration does not cause significant damage to the host and is referred to as benign. However, these swellings can be painful as they are most found near the joints.

Treatment
Adult worms found in the eye can be surgically removed with forceps after being paralyzed with a topical anesthesia. Studies have shown that the worm is not paralyzed completely, therefore if it is not extracted quickly, the worm can vanish upon extraction.

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