Hawaii Health Officials are worried as the island seems to be affected by an increasing number of rat lungworm cases, a rare parasitic worm. This can affect people’s brains and lead to several health issues, in rare cases, even death. Over the last few months, Maui authorities have confirmed 4 cases, while an additional four are still under investigation.
This Rare Parasitic Worm Could Lead To Meningitis
The rare parasite or the Angiostrongylus cantonensis is more commonly called the rat lungworm. Symptoms of such an infection include neck stiffness, headaches, nausea, or vomiting. People affected by it can also experience an abnormal sensation in their arms and legs. The rat lungworm can lead to meningitis and, in rare cases, even to neurological problems or death. This is all according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The health officials stated that most people could make a full recovery without following any treatment. However, people affected by such symptoms should seek medical attention.
“If you could imagine, it’s like having a slow-motion bullet go through your brain”. This is according to Dr. Sarah Park. She is an epidemiologist at the Hawaii Health Department.
So far, in 2017, health officials confirmed that 2 Maui residents have been affected by the rare parasitic worm. Also, this affected two island visitors. Presently, authorities are investigating what could be a further 4 cases of such an infection.
Rats are known for carrying the rat lungworm. However, this parasite can also infect slugs and snails, according to the CDC. People can contact a rat lungworm infection if they eat contaminated produce or by consuming undercooked or raw slugs or snails.
This parasite is prevalent in the tropical Pacific islands as well as in Southeast Asia. However, in recent years, it has also become more common in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa, as its geographical distribution has been expanding to other regions as well.
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