Hawaii is facing a crisis. There are six confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease since the beginning of the year. The first case of lungworm disease was discovered back in February when a person from the continent took a journey to the west of Hawaii. Other five people contracted the disease, among which were three Hawaii residents and three tourists.
Apparently, the last person to be infected might have caught the disease after eating unwashed fruits, but the official investigation conducted could not pinpoint the origin of the contamination.
The rat lungworm disease, or Angiostongylus Cantonensis, refers to the parasitic worm that takes up residence in the pulmonary arteries of rats. Snails and slugs are the ones that help the parasitic worm to develop until it is ready to infect other living creatures.
Rat Lungworm Disease Confirmed In Hawaii
The parasitic worm can also infect human beings as a result of snail consumption or from water and vegetables that were contaminated beforehand. It is worth mentioning that the snails have to be raw or undercooked to carry the larvae of the worm. From the stomach, the larvae end up in the blood vessels and are transported from one side to the other of the human body.
In the worst-case scenario, the larvae find their way up the central nervous system. There, they cause eosinophilic meningitis affecting not only the meninges but also the deeper brain tissue. The parasites cause the inflammation of the meninges, which leads to migraines and fever.
Then, the worms penetrate the brain tissue going further and further inside it. They cause various neurological symptoms that intensify and weaken due to their roaming inside the brain. Some of the worms die inside, and the brain responds by inflammation. The swelling results in paralysis for a short period, bladder and visual deterioration, unconsciousness, coma, long-lasting nerve damage and ultimately, death.