HONOLULU - The Hawaii Department of Health says there are two new cases of rat lungworm on the Big Island.  There are also four other cases that are probably for rat lungworm.

All six cases are adults and their illnesses were reported over the past weekend.

The adults became infected at a home in Kea'au a few weeks after drinking homemade kava, which they had left out in uncovered buckets after preparing the drink at the home.  The kava was poured into a large bowl and after drinking most of it, they noticed a slug at the bottom of the bowl.

“The department is continuing to monitor this serious illness spread to individuals by infected slugs and snails,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Cases like this recent cluster are especially concerning because they can be prevented with basic precautions such as storing food in covered containers and properly inspecting and washing food before eating. These healthy habits can protect against food contamination and prevent serious illnesses.”

This bring the total of 11 for confirmed cases of rat lungworm infections this year in Hawaii. Earlier this year, four Maui resident cases, two non-resident cases who were visitors to Maui, and three Hawaii Island resident cases were confirmed. The two cases confirmed today were Hawaii Island residents and of the four probable cases, three were Hawaii Island residents and one was a resident of Maui who traveled to Hawaii Island.  

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