The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health is today (March 19) investigating three cases of ocular worm infestation, and hence reminded the public to maintain strict environmental hygiene and protective measures against mosquito bites and stray dogs.
According to the notification by the Hospital Authority, the first patient is a woman aged 58 with good past health who presented with pain, redness and foreign body sensation in her left eye on November 7, 2014. She attended the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of Prince of Wales Hospital the following day (November 8) and a worm was extracted from her eye. The specimen was identified to be Dirofilaria species (Dirofilaria repens). Her clinical diagnosis was ocular dirofilariasis.
The second patient is a woman aged 69 who has developed foreign body sensation in her left eye since January 19, 2015. She consulted Hong Kong Eye Hospital on February 2, 2015, and a worm was extracted from her eye. The specimen was identified to be Dirofilaria species (Dirofilaria hongkongensis). Her clinical diagnosis was ocular dirofilariasis.
The remaining patient is a boy aged 15 with good past health who has presented with bilateral eye itchiness and runny nose since February 15, 2015. He has then developed low grade fever, malaise, headache and increasing eye itchiness, redness and foreign body sensation of both eyes since March 5, 2015. He attended the AED of Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 11, 2015, and was admitted for further management on the same day. His clinical diagnosis was suspected ocular filariasis.
All patients are now in stable condition.
“Our investigations are ongoing with a view to studying if the cases were epidemiologically linked,” a spokesman for the CHP said.
“Dirofilariasis is a disease caused by Dirofilaria worms which are parasites that infect a variety of mammals. Dogs are one of the main natural hosts of Dirofilaria worms. Humans may occasionally acquire the disease from infected natural hosts through mosquito bites. Infection may result in nodules under the skin, conjunctiva or internal organs, urticaria (hives), inflammation of the lymphatic system etc,” a spokesman explained.
“Dirofilariasis does not transmit from person to person. It is usually treated by surgical removal of the nodules. Members of the public should consult medical professionals if they have compatible symptoms,” the spokesman advised.
Members of the public should maintain strict environmental hygiene and take heed of personal protective measures against mosquito bites and stray dogs against the disease.