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2 new cases of rat lungworm disease confirmed on Hawaii island – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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2 new cases of rat lungworm disease confirmed on Hawaii island – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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By Kristen Consillio [email protected]

Posted February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Updated February 13, 2019 2:02pm

The state Health Department has confirmed two new cases of rat lungworm disease on Hawaii island.

  • COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

    Slugs or snails infected with rat lungworm parasites can pass them along to humans who happen to eat all or part of the tiny animals, often on raw, unwashed produce.

The state Health Department has confirmed two new cases of rat lungworm disease on Hawaii island.

Health officials said an adult who had been vacationing in northern Hawaii last year became ill in late December but was not diagnosed until being hospitalized after returning to the mainland. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed rat lungworm in the individual who has since recovered. The tourist was the seventh person to contract angiostrongyliasis on Hawaii island last year, bringing the statewide total to nine confirmed cases in 2018.

An East Hawaii adult resident became the first case of rat lungworm this year after becoming ill in January and being hospitalized earlier this month. The state Department of Health is investigating possible sources of infection.

“Our investigators are working diligently to communicate with the patients and learn more about how they may have become infected with rat lungworm disease,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson in a news release. “Determining the exact source of infection in any individual is challenging since it requires a deep dive into a person’s food consumption history as well as where they may live, work, travel and recreate. We know that most people get sick by accidentally eating infected slugs and snails. Taking precautions — such as washing all fresh produce before enjoying, and getting rid of slugs and snails around our homes and communities — can go a long way toward preventing infection.”

To prevent rat lungworm, DOH recommends controlling the snail, slug and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms by clearing debris where they might live and using traps and baits. DOH also urges the public to always inspect and wash fruits and vegetables with clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails, particularly in leafy greens, and store produce in sealed containers.

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