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State confirms new case of rat lungworm contracted by North Hawaii resident

The state Department of Health has confirmed a new case of rat lungworm disease contracted on the Big Island.

The individual is a resident of North Hawaii and is the second person from Hawaii County, and the state, to test positive for angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm, disease in 2019, according to the DOH.

The adult resident of North Hawaii became ill in January, and laboratory testing confirmed the individual’s infection in late February. The individual was hospitalized for a short time and has since recovered.

According to the DOH, 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 Hawaii, 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,” Health Director Bruce Anderson said in a written statement.

DOH will host a community meeting in North Hawaii in late April to provide residents in the area with information about rat lungworm disease and how they can protect themselves.

The meeting tentatively is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 22 at the North Kohala Public Library. More details about the event will be shared with the public at a later time.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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