‘A flesh-eating bug almost blinded me — I caught it from an ordinary activity’

She may need a cornea transplant.

‘A flesh-eating bug almost blinded me — I caught it from an ordinary activity’
Shereen-Fay Griffin, whilst a flesh-eating parasite was in her eye. See SWNS story SWSMparasite. A woman was left blind in one eye after contracting a flesh-eating parasite from mains water. Shereen-Fay Griffin, 38, lost sight in her right eye just under a year ago after contracting a parasitic eye infection. Shereen believes she contracted the infection - acanthamoeba keratitis - from her leisure center or from tap water at home. At first, Shereen's symptoms were innocuous - itchiness, soreness and fatigue.
By the time doctors realised she had a flesh-eating parasite, it was too late (Picture: Shereen-Fay Griffin/SWNS)

A woman has revealed how a flesh-eating parasite burrowed into her eye leaving her partially blind – and she thinks she may have got it from a swimming pool.

After going swimming in August 2022, Shereen-Fay Griffin, a learning support assistant at a secondary school, said that she experienced mild symptoms, including itchy and dry eyes, and fatigue.

Despite multiple visits to her GP, in the weeks that followed, her symptoms worsened, and in November 2022, she woke up blind in one eye.

The 38-year-old was eventually diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis – an infection of the cornea caused by a microscopic organism usually found in bodies of water, as well as domestic tap water, swimming pools, soil and air.

Now, Shereen is still coming to terms with the aftermath of the infection.

Shereen explains how the infection started: ‘I had been swimming. I used the swimming pool and shower there.

‘I had also washed my face at home in the morning and night.’

After over-the-counter treatments offered no relief, Shereen went to her GP — who prescribed her a week’s worth of antibiotics which were ineffective, and then referred her to an optician.

The optician, in turn, gave Shereen an urgent referral to hospital.

There, Shereen was diagnosed with a herpes simplex eye infection and given steriods and eye drops — but she had doubts about both the diagnosis and treatment.

‘I’ve never in my life even had a cold sore so it was odd to me,’ she said. ‘The ophthalmologist sent me off with antibiotic eye drops and steroids even though I told him oral antibiotics hadn’t worked.’

Shereen-Fay Griffin, whilst a flesh-eating parasite was in her eye. See SWNS story SWSMparasite. A woman was left blind in one eye after contracting a flesh-eating parasite from mains water. Shereen-Fay Griffin, 38, lost sight in her right eye just under a year ago after contracting a parasitic eye infection. Shereen believes she contracted the infection - acanthamoeba keratitis - from her leisure center or from tap water at home. At first, Shereen's symptoms were innocuous - itchiness, soreness and fatigue.
After a ten-week ordeal, Shereen was told a steroid she was prescribed actually made the condition worse(Picture: Shereen-Fay Griffin / SWNS)

Over the next few weeks, Shereen’s condition got worse instead of better, and despite being promised a follow-up call within the week, Shereen said she heard nothing for weeks on end.

‘I had a continuous dull pain in my eye. It didn’t seem right but was manageable with day-to-day life. ‘

After her multiple phone calls to the hospital went unanswered, Shereen said she went there herself to find out what was going on.

‘I’d had no follow-up appointment,’ she explained. ‘My eye was still in pain and my eye meds were running out.’

After visiting the hospital in person, Shereen got more medication — but things soon took a turn for the worse.

‘It was coming up to 10 weeks of no follow-up appointment and steroids four times day when I woke up in the most excruciating pain and completely blind in that eye.’

Shereen returned to the hospital immediately, and it was there that she was diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis.

After this diagnosis, Shereen visited a private hospital, where she was given even more shocking news.

Shereen-Fay Griffin, after she caught a flesh-eating parasite from mains water and became blind in one eye. See SWNS story SWSMparasite. A woman was left blind in one eye after contracting a flesh-eating parasite from mains water. Shereen-Fay Griffin, 38, lost sight in her right eye just under a year ago after contracting a parasitic eye infection. Shereen believes she contracted the infection - acanthamoeba keratitis - from her leisure center or from tap water at home. At first, Shereen's symptoms were innocuous - itchiness, soreness and fatigue.
Shereen claims that despite promising to arrange another appointment, the eye hospital never did. (Picture: Shereen-Fay Griffin / SWNS)

‘The parasite was in fact strengthened by the steroids I had been put on for 10 weeks hence why I ended up waking up blind,’ Shereen revealed.

‘It was explained to me by the doctors that this rare infection was very resistant to treatment. They said because mine had been strengthened with steroids for 10 weeks it was now super resistant.’

To this day, Shereen remains blind in one eye and still suffers from multiple symptoms.

‘I was bed-bound for three weeks and was house-bound for four months,’ she said. ‘I was off work for a total of five months. I have no left vision which stops me from taking part in activities like football with my students.

‘I have dull ache, dryness, itches, soreness and still some light sensitivity as my pupil struggles to dilate because of the scars on the front of my eye.’

Shereen’s only hope of recovery is a cornea transplant, which may or may not work, and would need to be repeated.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Moorfields Eye Hospital said, ‘The infection is caused by a microscopic organism called Acanthamoeba, which is common in nature and is usually found in bodies of water as well as domestic tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, soil and air.’

‘[They] do not generally cause harm to humans, but they can cause a serious eye disease if they infect the cornea.’

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