The sixth case of rat lungworm disease has been confirmed in an adult tourist who had visited the Big Island of Hawaii. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the State Health Department, this now makes a total of 3 cases of rat lungworm disease found in tourists and 3 found in residents.
This most recent victim is a resident from the mainland who was visiting West Hawaii when s/he was infected with the parasite causing rat lungworm disease. This person became ill in early February and was hospitalized for a short time on the mainland for symptoms.
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So far it has not been determined where the source of the infection came from, although the tourist did say that s/he had eaten a lot of fresh fruits without washing them.
The most common symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness. In more serious cases, individuals experience neurological problems, severe pain, and long-term disability.
Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm and can have debilitating effects on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord. In Hawaii, most people become ill by accidentally ingesting a snail or slug infected with the parasite.
To learn more about rat lungworm disease and how to prevent its spread, visit the Hawaii State Health Department website.