Parasitic Eye Infection in Child Highlights Need for Hygiene When Playing With Pets

Parasitic Eye Infection in Child Highlights Need for Hygiene When Playing With Pets

Remember, parents: Infants don't have strong immune systems.

Parents, with increasing evidence of the benefits of letting your kids play with dirt, it makes sense to let  them play outdoors while young. However, when it comes to infants or toddlers, it’s best to be careful and watchful when they are playing outdoors. Their immune systems are still developing, and therefore vulnerable to nature’s cunning microorganisms. Parasitic eye infections in babies is not something we hear of much. But we are highlighting one such case  to show you the importance of hygiene, especially when kids are outdoors. 

Six-Month-Old Sent to Hospital for Parasitic Eye Infection

Initially, the mother of six -month-old Huan Huan in Vietnam noticed that her baby was quite agitated, but thought it was normal for a little one of that age. However, she noticed something amiss while her baby was wailing in agony – she always rubbed her eyes. Upon closer inspection, the mum was horrified to see tiny, strange, moving creatures in Huan Huan’s eyes.  

The concerned mum rushed Huan Huan immediately for an eye examination at Nanjing Pediatric Hospital. There, Doctor My Phuong directly assessed her condition and found a shocking discovery. He saw five parasitic live worms in Huan Huan’s eyes – the likely cause her itching and discomfort.

Doctor Phuong then told the worried mother that Huan Huan must be hospitalised for immediate surgery. Otherwise, Huan Huan’s vision could be damaged in the long term.

parasitic eye infections

The five foreign intruders, after they were successfully removed from Huan Huan’s eyes | Image Source:

Thankfully, after the infant was anesthesised, the doctor was able to swiftly extract the five intruders. The worms were approximately 1mm in diameter and 1-3cm long.

Once Huan Huan was discharged, Doctor Phuong prescribed her antibiotic medication and instructed them to return for a follow-up examination after 20 days.

How Did the Parasites Get into Huan Huan’s Eye?

Even though the surgery was successful, Huan’s mother was still unsure how she contracted the worms in the first place.

Doctor Phuong explains that the worms that were removed were common roundworms. These worms are sometimes found in the eyes or tissues of other animals, like birds, cats and dogs. As these animals are a potential source of roundworms, their faeces can be contaminated with worm eggs. These faeces, when introduced on land or water, carry a risk of roundworm infection. 

It was only at the mention of this that Huan Huan’s mum figured out how her little girl might have got this problem in the first place. She had recently been allowed to play with the neighbour’s dog, and this might have possibly led to the worm infection.

Observe Strict Hygiene, Especially When You Have Pets

Parasitic Eye Infection in Child Highlights Need for Hygiene When Playing With Pets

Image source: iStock

First, remember that parasitic eye infections are rare in developed countries. Still, it pays to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to our little ones’ health. 

In the case of little Huan Huan, we don’t know for sure if it was exposure to a pet that caused the worm infection. In fact, pets have amazing benefits to young children. They teach them about love and responsibility and friendship.

Yet, it’s important to maintain strict hygiene practices, especially when pets and young children are involved.

Here are some general guidelines that parents can follow to avoid parasitic eye infections and other nasties in their kids. 

For Young Children:

  • If you have a pet at home, do regularly bathe and deworm them. Remember to bring them for regular vet check-ups and ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date. 
  • Supervise the children at all times – don’t let the pets lick your child’s face or hands.
  • If your little ones touch your pets, remember to wash their hands with soap and water afterwards. This should become a habit following play with pets.
parasitic eye infections

Handwashing with soap and warm water is very important to prevent potential pathogens from transferring from your pet to your child. | Image Source: Stock photo

For Older Children:

  • Tell young children to always scrub their hands thoroughly with warm water after touching pets. If it helps, teach them the proper way to clean their hands for at least 15 seconds, or to sing the ABC song. 
  • Tell your children to wash their hands after they touch soil particles, play with pets, or play outdoors.
  • If your child is old enough to understand you, teach them the importance of hygiene, such as washing their hands before and after touching the pets.
  • Tell them to avoid touching the pet’s mouth, and/or putting their hands into their mouths after touching a pet.  



Reference: Science Direct


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