Big Island toddler sickened in 5th case of rat lungworm this year

Big Island toddler sickened in 5th case of rat lungworm this year

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has confirmed its fifth case of rat lungworm disease in Hawaii this year, and it involves a toddler from the Big Island.

This is the third confirmed case of rat lungworm disease on the Big Island.

The state Department of Health said the toddler got sick in late July and was transferred to Oahu for further treatment.

The child spent several days in the hospital and was later discharged.

The state is still investigating this case.

"Our children move quickly and are naturally curious about the world around them, which is a normal part of their early development," said Aaron Ueno, Hawaii Island District Health Officer, in a news release. "We can reduce the risk of rat lungworm disease by controlling slugs and snails around our homes and gardens, and by keeping children away from these harmful vectors as much as possible.

Rat lungworm affects the brain and spinal cord, and is caused by a parasite that's only found in rodents.

Rodents pass the larvae on in their feces, and other animals (including slugs or snails) can become infected. Humans can get sick when they inadvertently eat those intermediate hosts, usually on raw produce that hasn't been washed.

The disease causes a rare type of meningitis. Some people have no or mild symptoms. Others can become violently ill.

This story may be updated.

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