Hawaii warns tourists of parasitic worm that can burrow into human brains

ars technica: Hawaii’s health department has released fresh warnings about a parasitic worm that can infest human brains after officials confirmed that three more visitors to the state picked up the infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed three new cases in unrelated adults visiting Hawaii Island from the US mainland, the health department announced. The latest known victims—who became infected at different times—bring the state’s 2018 case total to 10 and the 2019 total to five.

While there were 17 confirmed cases in 2017, the state counted only two cases total in the prior decade. The new case counts indicate a sustained boom in the parasite’s population and spread.

The parasitic worm in these cases is the rat lungworm, aka Angiostrongylus cantonensis. As its common name suggests, the wandering worm primarily takes up residence in rats’ lungs, where female worms lay their eggs. Young worms leave the nest early to find their own windy homes, though. Larvae get coughed up into rats’ throats then swallowed. The hosting rat eventually poops out the young parasites, which then get gobbled up by feces-feasting snails and slugs (intermediate hosts). When other rodents come along and eat those infected mollusks, the prepubescent parasites migrate to the rats’ brains to mature before settling into the lungs and reproducing. The cycle then starts again.

Humans are an accidental host, typically infected when they inadvertently eat an infected slug or snail that has slid into their salad fixings or other produce. Officials have blamed the recent boom in human cases, in part, on an explosion of an invasive “semi-slug,” which is particularly good at picking up the parasite.  more here



h/t Kristi

17 Comments on Hawaii warns tourists of parasitic worm that can burrow into human brains

  1. Just when I think I’ve heard every horrific disease or tortuous act of depravity humans can do to each other, along comes _Vikings_ (TV show) and sh** like this to clear up my ignorance.

    I actually did find a slug in lettuce someone had given to me and wouldn’t eat lettuce for months after that. Now I’m back on it (this was years ago) but I wash the heck out of those clam shell containers of mixed greens – it says “pre-washed” but I don’t trust that statement at all.

    But now I’ve found another good reason for remaining the only person in Alaska to have never been to Hawaii.

  2. I recall seeing a story about this a couple of years ago on Dan Riskin”s show, Monsters Inside of Me, on Animal Planet.

    A young man living on the big island or Maui became infested with this parasite after eating unclean lettuce from family garden. His mother was away else where in the Pacific on some kind of agricultural project. His aunt got him to hospital after he had spend days thinking he only had severe headaches, but a lot of damage was already done. He could barely walk after the parasite were removed.

    https://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/monsters-inside-me/videos/the-rat-lungworm .

  3. And all the 5 Star Michelin restaurants premiere SPAM,,
    Makes sense,,
    Gordan Ramsay is a tool,,,

  4. Thank goodness it has nothing to do with snorkeling. Now all I have to watch out for are the… SHARKS!

  5. Take heed, all of you that opt for “organic” pesticide free greens because that’s where the majority of these little buggers are found.
    Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.

  6. Diogenes Sarcastica JUNE 12, 2019 AT 1:18 AM
    “Well, I guess that explains Senator Mazie Hirono…..”

    …actually, I think it explains a lot about the people who VOTED for her…

  7. Lets see……what am I in the mood for? Prions from contaminated meat, tapeworms, or then there’s brain cysts from rat lung worm. We’re so blessed to live in a modern world that provides so many options!

  8. Rat lung worm parasite, bet it originated in California and spread to all democrat metropolitan cities controlled by democrats. That explains the brain dead voting for socialism.

  9. Did anyone notice the journalists name?

    Beth Mole – 5/30/2019, 2:00 PM

    So, here’s another disease spread by rats/mice. Diseases in LA and other places are spread by rats. So, looks like a rat is going to get us in the end. Good thing I have a feral cat, her name is Jihaddie.


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