If you’re planning on visiting Hawaii or if you live there, make sure you’re aware of the health department’s recent statement about a parasitic worm which can penetrate human brain and spinal cord.
According to the CDC, there have been three new cases of US adults from the mainland that have been infected with this worm while visiting Hawaii.
These three cases weren’t related because the individuals became infected at different periods and lived in different areas. However, they make the total of 5 infections in 2019 and 10 in 2018. There were also 17 confirmed cases from 2017 and two in the previous decade.
Officials explain that the new eruption of this infection is a result of the increase in semi-slug population which is a carrier of the worm.
What’s the Deal with this Parasitic Worm?
The Hawaii worm is the rat lungworm which makes the lungs of mice its home. There, the females lay eggs and the young worms leave the nest in order to find new home. When the larvae get coughed up from the airways of the mice and are swallowed and passed through the digestive system.
Slugs, snails, and other bugs that eat feces become hosts until new rodents eat the infested mollusks. The parasites temporarily make the mice’s brain their home until they’re mature enough to reproduce in the lungs.
The State Department of Health in Hawaii explain that one can get angiostrongyliasis by consuming food that’s been contaminated by the A. cantonensis worms in the larval stage.
In Hawaii, these worms can be present in raw or poorly cooked snails and slugs. Individuals could get infected by consuming raw produce with an infected slug or snail or part of one.
How to Avert this Infection?
Unfortunately, diagnosis this mice lungworm infection isn’t easy. A lot of cases have no symptoms and the parasite can’t be seen on blood tests.
Usually, patients who’re infected are left managing their symptoms while waiting for the worm to diet, which usually occurs prior to the infestation of the human’s lungs.
This being said, if you’re visiting Hawaii, thoroughly inspect and wash the produce you purchase. Also, keep produce sealed in proper containers and avoid consuming slugs or snails.
Moreover, make sure you rinse all food items that have come into contact with slugs or snails.