(CBS NEWS) -- Imagine going to the mirror and finding a small translucent worm crawling across the surface of your eye. The first of many.

That's what happened to an avid 26-year-old outdoorswoman from Oregon, who recently became the first human ever infected by a type of eye worm previously seen only in cattle.

For days, the woman's left eye felt irritated. It felt like there was a hair or something in her eye.

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.

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An adult female Thelazia gulosa/ CDC

The woman went to a local doctor, who pulled two more worms from her eye. The next day she proceeded to an optometrist, who found another three worms.

"A total of 14 worms were removed from her left eye over 20 days," said Bradbury, team lead of the Parasitology Reference Diagnostic Laboratory at the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria. "They weren't able to remove them all at once. They had to remove them as they became present and visible."

All the worms were less than half an inch long. Doctors either tweezed them out or flushed them out of the eye, the researchers reported.

The worm, Thelazia gulosa, causes eye irritation but usually no permanent damage, Bradbury said. It simply crawls over the eye and under the eyelid, feeding on your tears.

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