Hawaii warns tourists about Parasite that can Cause Rat lungworm disease

Hawaii warns tourists about Parasite that can Cause Rat lungworm disease

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has given a warning about a rat lungworm disease that can attack the brain after confirmed three more new cases.

After receiving a notification from the CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that they confirmed three unrelated cases of rat lungworm disease in three visitors from US mainland on Hawaii island.

These three visitors infected when they traveling in Hawaii. One individual becomes infected by eating slug on a dare in December 2018 when he was visiting East Hawaii and become the eighth person who tested positive for angiostrongyliasis in 2018.

The other individuals become infected when they were visiting West Hawaii Island. One individual becomes ill in January. After an investigation, it is not known how the individual infected, but they do remember eating many homemade salads.

The other individual becomes ill and hospitalized in late February 2019. The exact source of infection couldn’t identify by an investigation, but the individual likely becomes infected while eating unwashed vegetables, raw fruits, and other plants straight from the ground.

With other additional cases confirmed by CDC, this gives Hawaii Island five confirmed cases rat lungworm disease in 2019.

DOH provides information by signage in local public places. Health Director Bruce Anderson said, “We recognize that there is more work to be done in educating residents and visitors and making sure they know how to prevent the spread of this disease.”

DOH provides the following recommendations to prevent angiostrongyliasis or rat lungworm disease.

  • Wash all the vegetables and fruits with clean and running water and pay close attention to leafy greens.
  • Control slug, snail and rat population near your living places such as homes, farms, and gardens. Clear debris safely where they might, and use traps and baits to get rid of these vectors. Always use gloves when you working outside for safety.
  • Inspect and wash the products that you are using regardless where they came from a local retailer, backyard garden or farmer’s market.

You should know about Angiostrongyliasis

Angiostrongyliasis is commonly known as rat lungworm disease. It is an infection caused by roundworm of the Angiostrongylus type.

Infection with rat lungworm can occur after consuming raw great grey slugs, Giant African land snails, other mollusks or even by eating unwashed fruits and vegetables.

It is the most cause of meningoencephalitis and meningitis in humans. Mostly will Infection resolve without treatment but in case heavy load of parasites, it can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system.


Its symptoms include followings

  • Abdominal pain, nausea, weakness
  • Slowed reaction and mild cognitive impairment in severe form often lead to unconsciousness.
  • Visual impairment, retinal edema, and keratitis. Sometimes worm can be seen in the vitreous and anterior chamber.
  • Most common symptoms are headaches and neck stiffness.
  • Avoid eating uncooked vectors such as snails, slug and freshwater prawns.
  • Avoid drinking water from the open sources and which may have been contaminated by the vectors.
  • Prevent your children from playing with snails.


Hawaii State Department of Health

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