A Taiwanese woman was found by doctors to have four small sweat bees living inside her eye, the first such incident on the island.
The 29-year-old woman, identified only as Ms He had no idea why her eye was swollen shut. She was in unbearable pain and could not stop tearing up. The Taiwanese woman said she was confused why what she thought was an infection kept getting worse, CTS News reported.
But when the woman received treatment at Fooyin University Hospital in Taiwan, doctors didn’t find a bacterial infection. While looking at He’s eyes through a microscope, Dr Hung Chi-ting, the hospital’s head of ophthalmology, witnessed something he hadn’t seen before.
Insect legs were wiggling from one of her eye sockets. He yanked out a small bee, known as Halictidae or a “sweat bee.” And it was alive.
The doctor, however, wasn’t done. Soon he extracted a second sweat bee. And a third. And, finally, a fourth bee was pulled from the woman’s eyelid.
Ms He has now been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery. Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae, are attracted to sweat and sometimes land on people to imbibe perspiration. They also drink tears for their high protein content, according to a study by the Kansas Entomological Society.
Craving salt, the bees had been feeding off He’s tears, the doctor said at a news conference last week, later describing the odd medical diagnosis as a “world first.” The insects had made a new home inside the woman’s eyelid – that is, until they were all successfully removed alive.
So, how did sweat bees end up camping out inside a 29-year-old woman’s eye? He suspects it all started the previous day. As He recounted in the news conference, she was taking part in the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day.
“I was visiting and tidying a relative’s grave with my family,” He recently told reporters. “I was squatting down and pulling out weeds.” As CTS News reported, He said she felt something get in her eye.
Thinking it was only dirt, she cleaned her eye out with water and did not rub her eyes much for the rest of the day.