Rat Lungworm Disease
We Care About Your Safety – Learn Prevention Techniques (Or Go On Tour)
State of Hawaii Department of Health describes it as;
“Angiostrongyliasis, also known as rat lungworm, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a parasitic nematode (roundworm parasite) called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The adult form of A. cantonensis is only found in rodents.”
However, infected rodents can pass larvae of the worm in their feces. Snails, slugs, and certain other animals (including freshwater shrimp, land crabs, and frogs) can become infected by ingesting this larvae; these are considered intermediate hosts. Humans can become infected with A. cantonensis if they eat (intentionally or otherwise) a raw or undercooked infected intermediate host, thereby ingesting the parasite”.
of Rat Lungworm Disease
The best way to avoid rat lungworm is to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens like lettuce, as small slugs can become hidden at the base of the leaves. The surface of leafy veggies can also become contaminated from the mucus secretions left behind by slugs and snails. Do not handle slugs with your bare hands – especially children.
Hawai’i residents in infected areas have been working to eliminate invasive snails, slugs and rats found near gardens and houses. There are more cases on the island of Hawai’i than there are in Hana. All residents of the Hana side of Maui are fully aware of the threat and are coming together as a community to keep themselves and visitors safe from this debilitating disease. We love this community as they immediately help their neighbors without funds from the county or state to take preventative action, care for those affected and educate thru the schools.
Studies show the rat lungworm parasite has been known to occur in about 50% of the population of rats and the intermediate hosts of slugs and snails found on the wet windward sides of the Big Island of Hawai’i. However semi slugs have been shown to carry the parasite about 75% to 80% of the time. This has caused concern on the Big Island where over the last five years 3 to 5 cases of the disease have occurred annually.
Semi slugs are land gastropods whose shells are too small for them to retract into. The shell of some semi-slugs may not be easily visible because the shell may be covered over with a fleshy mantle.
The semi slug seems to be less active in the hotter summer season but tiny babies appear in the fall and they too can carry the rat lungworm parasite. The slugs love the food we and our pets eat. They can crawl up walls and into homes leaving parasites in their slime trails. They will get into compost bins, trash cans, crawl under tarps, weed cloth, plastic and plastic plant pots. They appear soon after food sources become available, including pet foods. A very small piece of slug can contain as many as a thousand parasites.
Perhaps the most concern many Hana residents have is the slugs ability to crawl into water systems or catchment tanks where the slug will drown and release parasites which can survive up to 72 hours in the water.