Crocodile Meat Potential Source of Parasite Found in Woman’s Eye

Crocodile meat is a potential source of a parasite, that sometimes jumps from reptiles to humans, and was found by doctors to have lived for two years in a woman’s eye in Africa, according to a new medical case study. A rare case of a parasitic eye infection, called “ocular pentastomiasis,” the case involves a patient in her 20s from the town of Basankusu in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The woman showed no signs of any symptoms except for a swollen mass in the corner of her eye. The rare zoonotic disease pentastomiasis highlighted in the recent research paper is reportedly the first of its kind in medical literature. According to experts, most human infections of pentastomiasis occur in the tropics and subtropics zones of the world. Moreover, the parasitic disease is acquired from undercooked reptile meat.

Parasite Detected in Woman’s Eye

Crocodile Meat Potential Source of Parasite Found in Woman's Eye, A Rare Case of 'Ocular Pentastomiasis' Infection [Study]
(Photo : Photo by Thomas Couillard on Unsplash)

Parasites are known for infecting the body of different living organisms which they use as hosts for them to survive. In medical literature, experts say parasites use the internal biological environment of their hosts to feed, nurture, and reproduce. In previous cases, these pathogens have been detected in different parts of the human body, including the eyes, brain, ears, and stomach of people.

In the study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology on Thursday, April 11, doctors revealed the detection of a parasite inside the eye of a 28-year-old woman in DRC. They found it belonged to a parasite species called Armillifer grandis, causing the rare infection ocular pentastomiasis, which likely came from crocodile meat. Contraction of species belonging to the genus Armillifer is common in Africa and Asia.

The identification of A. grandis came after doctors who attended to the female patient noticed that the swollen mass on her eye could move, resulting in its surgical removal and revealing that it is a pale, C-shaped larva. It is still unknown how the woman exactly got the eye parasite but health authorities suspected that it came from food or water contaminated with the parasite’s eggs or making contact with infected reptiles.

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What is Pentastomiasis?

Pentastomiasis is a type of rare infection caused by the larval stage of pentastomids, which consists of members of a group of crustacean-related parasites, according to health experts. Being a parasitic zoonotic disease, the infection can be transmitted from animals to humans. In the case of reptiles, the Armillifer species make snakes their final host, according to the April 2024 study that presented the ocular pentastomiasis case.

In recent years, there have been multiple cases of unusual human infections by parasites found in areas of the body one might not expect. In 2023, a live parasitic worm was found in the brain of a woman in Australia. In 2018, over a dozen worms were found inside the eye of an Oregon woman in the United States.

Related Article: Live Parasitic Worm Found in Woman’s Brain in Australia After a Year of Mysterious Illness

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