The state has confirmed a ninth case of rat lungworm disease in 2019 in an adult on Kauai.
The Department of Health said today that the adult contracted angiostrongyliasis, a potentially debilitating disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, after traveling to Hawaii island in mid-December. A spinal tap confirmed the disease, which symptoms include severe pain and headaches, neck stiffness and in the worst cases, long-term disability and death.
The other eight individuals also likely contracted the disease last year while on the Big Island.
A DOH investigation was not able to identify an exact source of infection.
So far there have been no confirmed cases in 2020, but health officials continue to advise the public to thoroughly inspect and rinse fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, to “remove pests and other contaminants.”
“When in doubt, cooking food by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes or heating to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds can kill the parasite that causes rat lungworm disease,” said state epidemiologist Sarah Park.
Controlling the snail, slug, and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms is also advised.
Rat lungworm is caused by a parasitic roundworm that gets into the body most commonly when individuals accidentally ingest an infected snail or slug.