Thelazia callipaeda or oriental eye worm,

Cats, dogs and even humans are at risk from the disease which can be transmitted by fruit flies.
An eye infection that can blind pets could spread to Ireland, owners are being warned.

Caused by a parasitic worm it has become increasingly common in mainland Europe.

The disease, Thelazia callipaeda or oriental eye worm, is transmitted by a type of fruit-fly that lands on the eyes and leaves infected larvae.

Humans as well as cats and dogs are also at risk from the flies which feed on eye secretions.

There have been three recent cases among dogs reported in the UK.

The first known case was found in an one-year-old male collie cross recently imported from western Romania just last July.

Two further dogs were found to have the disease after visiting Italy and France.

All made a full recovery following drug treatment and eye washes to flush out the adult worms.

Infections in humans have been found in Spain, Italy, France, Croatia and Serbia.
Thelazia callipaeda or oriental eye worm

Disease is transmitted by a type of fruit-fly that lands on the eyes and leaves infected larvae
Veterinary expert John Graham-Brown, from Liverpool University, in the BMJ publication Veterinary Record said there was no risk of people catching the infection directly from their pets.

But dog owners should be on the lookout for signs of the infection in themselves and their pet if they had recently travelled to continental Europe.

Adult worms live in the eyes and tissues and infected animals show a variety of symptoms within two weeks, from mild conjunctivitis to severe corneal ulceration which, if untreated, can lead to blindness.

He said: "So far, there has been only one strain of the infection round in Europe. But it's been spreading quite rapidly recently. We are not sure why.

"We do have this type of fly in the UK as well, so there is the potential for an infected dog to come back and give it to the fly here, and then it could spread."

The flies tend to be found in areas of oak woodland during warmer months.