First Hawaii Rat Lungworm Case of 2018

“We know that slugs, snails, and rats in all counties carry the parasite that can cause rat lungworm disease, and rain with wet conditions often brings more of these garden pests.” Aaron Ueno, Hawaii District Health Office IMAGE: dbking, CC BY 2.0

(Anthony Marangon) The Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed the state’s first case of rat lungworm disease this year.

The individual became seriously ill and is being treated at a hospital.

Laboratory results confirmed rat lungworm parasite in the individual’s spinal fluid.

Produce May Be Affected

“This is a reminder for everyone to take precautions and control snail, slug, and rat populations in and around properties, and especially home and school gardens and farms,” said Aaron Ueno, Hawaii District Health Office administrator.

Rat lungworm disease (angiostrongyliasis) can have debilitating effects on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord.

The public is urged to take the following precautions:

  • Inspect, wash and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, especially leafy greens, to remove any tiny slugs or snails.
  • Control snail, slug, and rat populations. Eliminate slugs, snails, and rats around properties, and especially around home gardens and farms.

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(HEADLINE HEALTH) While the mainland U.S. imports little to no fresh produce from Hawaii, rat lungworm is a spreading throughout Florida, one of the nation’s leading producers or fresh fruits and vegetables. As Fox News Reported on June 30, 2017:

A parasite that can cause meningitis in humans and animals is spreading throughout the state of Florida, with health officials fearing that it may be in other areas throughout the southern U.S.

The parasitic roundworm, known as rat lungworm, is native to Hawaii and tropical locations, and while small studies have previously placed it in southern Florida, University of Florida researchers call their latest findings “alarming.”


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