Hawaii's sixth rat lungworm case confirmed in U.S. mainland visitor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the sixth rat lungworm case in Hawai'i this year.
The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) has received notification the CDC that the case was confirmed in an adult visitor to Hawai‘i Island. The six cases include three residents and three visitors -- all of which likely contracted the disease on the Big Island.
The visitor is a resident of the U.S. mainland, and was traveling in West Hawai'i Island when they were infected with the parasite causing rat lungworm disease. They became ill in February and were hospitalized on the mainland for a short time. Though they were not able to identify an exact source of infection, the visitor reported eating lots of fresh fruits and not washing them all before ingesting.
“Washing fresh fruits and vegetables carefully no matter where they come from is an important step to preventing rat lungworm disease,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “Thoroughly inspecting and rinsing produce under clean, running water is the most effective way to remove pests and other contaminants.”
DOH provides the following recommendations to prevent rat lungworm disease:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails. Pay close attention to leafy greens.
- 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.
For more information about rat lungworm disease and how to prevent its spread, visit:
- DOH website: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/
- HDOA website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/main/rat-lungworm-information/
- CTAHR website: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ctahr/farmfoodsafety/rat-lungworm/
- CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/angiostrongylus/index.html