Hawaii health officials are reporting the second case of angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm disease this year in an individual from North Hawai‘i.
This is the second case from Hawai‘i County to test positive for angiostrongyliasis in 2019, bringing the statewide total to two cases this year.
Health officials learned recently about the adult resident of North Hawai‘i, who became ill in January. Laboratory testing though DOH’s State Laboratories Division confirmed the individual’s infection in late February. The individual was hospitalized for a short time and has since recovered.
The exact source of infection could not be identified, but investigators learned the individual had a home garden on their property. It is likely the individual accidentally consumed a slug or snail while eating produce from their garden.
“In Hawai‘i, we need to treat all slugs and snails as if they are infected with the parasite that causes rat lungworm disease, and this means washing all produce no matter where it comes from, whether it’s from the grocery store, the farmer’s market or grown in our own home gardens and yards,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Washing all produce carefully and thoroughly using clean, running water is the most effective way to remove unwanted slugs or snails from fresh fruits and vegetables.”
DOH provides the following recommendations to prevent rat lungworm disease:
• Control snail, slug, and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms. Get rid of these vectors safely by clearing debris where they might live, and also using traps and baits. Always wear gloves for safety when working outdoors.
• Inspect, wash and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.
• Wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails. Pay close attention to leafy greens.
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