Rat lungworm disease common route of infection of cantonesis in humans is by ingesting slug slime, contaminated fruits, vegetables and water.
Especially raw or undercooked slugs, snails, mollusks, prawns. Experts say the most probable cause is contaminated products, humans are incidental and dead end hosts of this parasite.
‘Rat lungworm’ disease, or angiostrongylus, is a parasite that is carried by rats and transferred to humans by slugs or flatworms.
Transmission can also happen when people eat infected crabs, shrimp, lizards and frogs, though this is believed to be less common, expert said. There may also be very rare cases of contamination through water.
Angiostrongylus cantonensis is very common in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific Islands including Australia. Most cases result from eating raw or undercooked snails, which is native to SE Asia.
In humans, the parasite will not develop to sexual maturity and may live for up to a year in the human body but will eventually die. While the parasite has been in Hawaii a long time, cases of illness have risen with the introduction and increase in the population of an invasive semi-slug.
Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a parasitic nematode that causes angiostrongyliasis, the most common cause of eosinophilic meningitis in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin. It lies with invasive species finding their way to Hawai’i, such as rats, the primary carrier, snails and slugs that carry high loads of the parasite and whose populations are increasing and spreading on the islands.
Recent rat lungworm disease cases, 9 confirmed in Hawaii Island
The Department of Health say to date there are nine confirmed cases of the disease. Four are Maui residents, two are visitors who contracted it on Maui, and three live on Hawaii Island.
In 2015 Department of Health record, 38 of the 42 reported cases of ‘rat lungworm’ statewide since 2007. It has become such a concern that the University of Hawai’i at Hilo is hosting a presentation on Wednesday night to educate the public about disease prevention.
“Every now and then we do health advisories in the local newspaper. We don’t want to cause panic so we don’t continuously print it, but we do but prevention methods in there along with the advisory,” the state Health Department’s Marlena Dixon explained to Big Island Video News.
Officials say ‘Rat lungworm disease’ is a completely preventable infection, if people thoroughly wash all their fruits and vegetables. Cases of eosinophilic meningitis caused by the rat lungworm parasite have risen sharply in Hawaii over the past 5 years.