• Users Online: 4865
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

   Table of Contents      
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 12  |  Page : 1159-1161

Linguatula serrata in the anterior chamber of the eye

1 Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Vitreoretinal Service, Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Uveitis and Ocular Pathology, Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Parasitology, Madras Veterinary College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission04-May-2014
Date of Acceptance06-Dec-2014
Date of Web Publication12-Jan-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Muna Bhende
Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Vitreoretinal Service, Sankara Nethralaya, No. 41, College Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600 006, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0301-4738.149145

Rights and Permissions

We report a case of intraocular Linguatula in healthy young female who presented with a history of trivial trauma, dislocated lens, inflammation and secondary glaucoma. A mobile worm was seen in the anterior chamber. Pars plana lensectomy and vitrectomy was planned to remove both the cataractous lens and the parasite during which the worm disappeared from view but was later recovered from the cassette fluid. It was identified as the nymphal form of Linguatula serrata (tongue worm).

Keywords: Anterior chamber, intraocular parasite, Linguatula serrata (tongue worm), subluxated lens, vitrectomy

How to cite this article:
Bhende M, Abhishek, Biswas J, Raman M, Bhende PS. Linguatula serrata in the anterior chamber of the eye. Indian J Ophthalmol 2014;62:1159-61

How to cite this URL:
Bhende M, Abhishek, Biswas J, Raman M, Bhende PS. Linguatula serrata in the anterior chamber of the eye. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Jul 1];62:1159-61. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?2014/62/12/1159/149145

Tongue worm (Linguatula serrata) is an endoparasite commonly dwelling in carnivores, especially dogs. Humans are intermediate incidental hosts and dead end for the parasite. [1] Ocular manifestation is extremely rare. We hereby report a live tongue worm in the eye and its removal.

  Case Report Top

A 25-year-old Asian Indian female, from agricultural background in rural south India visited our hospital with blunt injury to right eye (RE) followed by diminution of vision, pain, redness and watering. She was already on topical and oral steroids, cycloplegics and anti-glaucoma medications (including acetazolamide). Her past and medical history was unremarkable. On examination, best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was 20/120, N36 in RE and 20/20, N6 in left eye (LE). Goldmann applanation tonometry was 34 and 12 mm of Hg in RE and LE respectively. Anterior segment examination of RE revealed circum-corneal congestion, microcystic corneal edema, anterior chamber (AC) reaction, dilated pupil, inferior subluxation of cataractous lens and a whitish mobile body in AC 4 mm in length showing undulating movements [Figure 1]. The optic disc was healthy and retina attached. LE was normal. Her systemic examination was unremarkable.
Figure 1: Anterior segment photograph at presentation showing the worm in the inferior part of the anterior chamber. The dislocated lens is seen in the lower half of the pupil

Click here to view

A diagnosis of RE traumatic subluxation of lens with live worm in AC was made. The patient was taken up for surgical removal of the parasite with dislocated lens via pars plana route (20G) and lensectomy, vitrectomy, belt buckling with peripheral laser was done under local anaesthesia. The parasite was seen in the anterior chamber just prior to the start of surgery but had moved posteriorly by the time anesthesia was administered and the eye was prepared. 20G pars plana sclerotomies were made and lensectomy was started, during which time it was seen stuck to the posterior lens surface [Figure 2]. The parasite then suddenly disappeared from view and could not be traced despite complete clearing of media and thorough retinal examination with scleral depression. No evidence of retinal or subretinal hemorrhages was seen to suggest subretinal passage that is known to occur with live parasites during attempted removal. The pars plana showed a small fibrotic scar which could have indicated a previous location of the parasite. On a suspicion of it being sucked into the cutter port unnoticed, the vitrectomy cassette fluid was sent to pathology lab and sedimented, the wet mount of which revealed a worm [Figure 3] which was identified as nymphal stage of L. serrata by one of the authors (MR) who is a veterinary parasitologist.
Figure 2: Intraoperative still photograph showing the parasite on the undersurface of the lens (arrow)

Click here to view
Figure 3: Wet mount photograph of the worm retrieved from the cassette fluid, that was identified as Linguatula serrata (×5)

Click here to view

The postoperative period was uneventful. Patient was reviewed after 6 weeks with BCVA of 20/40, N6 in RE and a quiet eye [Figure 4], normal intraocular pressure, clear vitreous cavity and an attached retina. Scleral fixated intraocular lens implantation was done 6 months after the initial surgery following which her BCVA was 20/30, N6 with quiet eye and normal posterior segment.
Figure 4: Anterior segment photograph at 6 weeks follow-up showing a quiet eye

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Tongue worm is an endoparasite dwelling in the nasopharynx of carnivores and lungs of birds and reptiles. In India approximately 38% of stray dogs are infected with the disease. [2] The colour and shape of the worm varies from species to species. They are usually colourless to yellow with no distinct body parts or shape. Females are larger in size as compared to males. Definitive hosts cast eggs in water or vegetations which are taken up by intermediate hosts, develop into nymphs (infective larvae), migrate to various organs and become encysted. Once the nymphs reach the definitive host they develop in adult worms. The parasite usually degenerates in intermediate host and there is no existing definitive antihelmenthic drug for the same. [3]

Humans get infected with the adult tongue worms. The disease is known as Halzoun syndrome [4] and Marrara disease [5] (hypersensitivity reaction to the nymphs). Patients develop symptoms due to nasopharyngeal blockage. Ocular linguatuliosis is rare. A similar presentation as to our case was reported by Deweese et al. [6] Lang et al. have described a case of iritis causing secondary glaucoma due to L. serrata. [7] A case report of occurrence of a similar worm has been described from India. [8] The patient in this report had evidence of mild iritis. Apart from L. serrata other worms that have been found in AC are filarial worms (Brugia malayi and Wuchereria bancrofti), Spirometra species (diphyllobothroid tapeworms), Schistosoma species (blood fluke), Paragonimus westermani (lung fluke), Onchocerca volvulus (river blindness nematode), Loa loa (African eye worm).

Our patient had the nymphal stage of the worm in AC and traumatic subluxation of lens with secondary glaucoma. The two findings were probably coincidental but both warranted surgical intervention. Intracameral acetylcholine can be used as an agent for chemoparalysis of worms in the AC, however in our case with subluxated lens and therefore a single chamber, we were unaware of possible safety issues such as retinal toxicity. [9] Live parasite causing sufficient inflammation to dissolve the zonules causing spontaneous subluxation of lens has not been reported and the history of trauma seems to be a reliable coincidence. The difficulties of removing a live, mobile parasite from the eye are highlighted in this case, where an easily visualized live worm disappeared from view at the start of and during surgery. Another point of interest is the fact that a larger bore (20G) vitrectomy cutter was used, which probably made it easy for the worm to pass though the lumen intact and facilitated its identification in the cassette fluid. This illustrates a novel location for a "missing intraocular parasite."

  References Top

Hopps HC, Keegan HL, Price DL, Self JT. Pentastomiasis. In: Marcial-Rojas RA, editor. Pathology of Protozoal and Helminthic Diseases. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1971. p. 970-89.  Back to cited text no. 1
Acha P, Szyfres B. Pentastomiases. In: Zoonoses and Communicable Diseases Common to Man and Animals. 3 rd ed., Vol. III. Washington: Pan American Health Organization; 2003. p. 345-50.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tappe D, Büttner DW. Diagnosis of human visceral pentastomiasis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2009;3:e320.  Back to cited text no. 3
Siavashi MR, Assmar M, Vatankhah A. Nasopharyngeal pentastomiasis (Halzoun): Report of 3 cases. Iran J Mol Sci 2002;27:191-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
Yagi H, el Bahari S, Mohamed HA, Ahmed el-R S, Mustafa B, Mahmoud M, et al. The Marrara syndrome: A hypersensitivity reaction of the upper respiratory tract and buccopharyngeal mucosa to nymphs of Linguatula serrata. Acta Trop 1996;62:127-34.  Back to cited text no. 5
Deweese MW, Murrah WF, Caruthers SB. Case report of a tongue worm (Linguatula serrata) in the anterior chamber. Arch Ophthalmol 1962;68:587-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Lang Y, Garzozi H, Epstein Z, Barkay S, Gold D, Lengy J. Intraocular pentastomiasis causing unilateral glaucoma. Br J Ophthalmol 1987;71:391-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
Pal SS, Bhargava M, Kumar A, Mahajan N, Das S, Nandi K, et al. An unusual intraocular tongue worm in anterior chamber: A case report. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2011;19:442-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
Ahn DS, Flores-Aguilar M, Kirsch L, Munguia D, Gangan P, Freeman WR. Evaluation of retinal toxicity of acetylcholine in rabbit eyes. Retina 1995;15:327-31.  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Linguatula serrata in an imported dog in Germany: Single-case or emerging disease?
Maxi Berberich, Thomas Grochow, Nadine Roßner, Ronald Schmäschke, Zaida Rentería-Solís
Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports. 2022; 30: 100717
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Global status of neglected human Linguatula infection: a systematic review of published case reports
Rabeeh Tabaripour, Masoud Keighobadi, Ali Sharifpour, Hossein Azadeh, Azar Shokri, Elham Sadat Banimostafavi, Mahdi Fakhar, Soodeh Abedi
Parasitology Research. 2021; 120(9): 3045
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Characterisation of the tongue worm, Linguatula serrata (Pentastomida: Linguatulidae), in Australia
Shokoofeh Shamsi, Diane P. Barton, Xiaocheng Zhu, David J. Jenkins
International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. 2020; 11: 149
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
Case Report
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded208    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal