2 new cases of rat lungworm disease discovered on Hawaii Island

One of those sickened by the disease is a visitor to the Big Island.

2 new cases of rat lungworm disease discovered on Hawaii Island
Rat lungworm disease has sickened two more people on the Big Island. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two new cases of rat lungworm disease, including one found in a visitor who had vacationed on the Big Island, have been detected by the state Department of Health.

Investigators are still conducting an investigation to determine how and when the patients may have been infected.

Late last year, according to health department officials, a visitor to North Hawaii became sick after departing Hawaii at the end of their vacation. Confirmatory testing was done by the Centers for Disease Control, and the person was diagnosed after they had already left Hawaii.

The case was the ninth confirmed case of rat lungworm in Hawaii in 2018.

The first confirmed case detected in Hawaii this year was found in an adult resident of East Hawaii, who became ill in January and was hospitalized in February.

“Our investigators are working diligently to communicate with the patients and learn more about how they may have become infected with rat lungworm disease,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Determining the exact source of infection in any individual is challenging since it requires a deep dive into a person’s food consumption history as well as where they may live, work, travel and recreate.

DOH recommends the following practices to prevent contracting the disease:

  • 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.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails and pay special attention to leafy greens.

For more information about rat lungworm disease and how to avoid it, click here.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.