New cases of rat lungworm disease discovered on Hawaii Island

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

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) (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Another new case of rat lungworm disease has been confirmed on Hawaii Island.

State officials said Thursday that an adult resident of North Hawaii who first reported feeling ill in January was tested for the infection. Those tests came back positive for angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm, and the individual was hospitalized for a short time.

The person has since recovered, the state says. Investigators are still trying to determine the source of the infection.

It’s the second confirmed case of rat lungworm disease in Hawaii this year. The first case 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.

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