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State lawmakers allocate funds for rat lungworm research

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State officials confirmed 18 cases of rat lungworm disease statewide last year.

HILO >> The Legislature has announced that a $300,000 allocation will be included in the state budget to fund rat lungworm disease research at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Lawmakers on Friday announced the funding for programs related to the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Democrat state Rep. Chris Todd of Hilo said the funding will recur every year “until it’s no longer needed.” Todd said funding for rat lungworm research at UH-Hilo has been an issue since before he took office last year.

He credited several representatives and senators and several people at the university with finally getting the funding added to the budget.

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasite found in rats and is transmitted to slugs and snails. In humans, the parasite can cause severe damage to the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness. Serious cases involve neurological problems and severe pain and disability.

State health officials earlier this month confirmed two new rat lungworm infections in Hawaii. Officials confirmed 18 cases statewide last year.

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