Christmas eye. Tiny Australian critter causes pain comparable to childbirth
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Researchers have discovered that tiny beetles, which are no larger than 1 millimeter in size, cause the disease.
“Christmas Eye” — a rare and debilitating disease that occurs only in a remote part of the southeast of Australia. Local residents who have been exposed to this disease say that the pain in the eyes is so severe that it can be compared to childbirth, writes Science Alert.
Researchers note that the cause of the development of the “Christmas eye” is tiny straight-horned beetles (Orthoperus Beetle), whose dimensions do not exceed 1 millimeter in length. However, these tiny creatures are capable of inflicting hellish pain.
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According to local Australian optometrist Rob Holloway, outbreaks tend to occur around Christmas – hence the name of the disease. One of the most unusual aspects of the disease is the fact that it can only be found in the Australian region of Albury Wodonga, which is located about 300 kilometers northeast of Melbourne. Note that the disease is also called “Albury-Wodong syndrome” and “harvester keratitis”, due to its association with agricultural work.
According to another local optometrist, Kelly Gibbons, straighthorn beetles release a toxic compound when crushed. As a rule, this happens when a person rubs his eyes – as a result, the toxin enters the eyes and causes hellish pain, which some patients compare to childbirth.
Holloway notes that insects contain pederin, a substance that can cause the formation blisters. If the beetle is crushed near the eyes, the substance gets on it – as a result, the surface of the eye becomes blistered and falls off. The optometrist also noted that Albury-Wodonga has seen a surge in incidence this year – locals attribute such beetle activity to heavy rainfall that began two weeks before Christmas.
As a result of the outbreak, about 25- 30 cases. In a typical year, however, the number of cases barely exceeds a dozen.
Fortunately, according to Holloway, Christmas Eye is now fairly easy to treat with antibiotics, according to Holloway. If help is provided on time, then in two weeks all the symptoms of the disease will disappear.