Rat lungworm disease

Rat lungworm disease, which has long been prevalent in parts of Asia and the Caribbean, is a grave illness caused by a parasitic worm that invades the human brain. Like many diseases, it is carried by infected rats on container ships as well as hosts like slugs and snails, and it has arrived in Hawaii.

According to The Maui News, six cases of rat lungworm have been reported on Maui over the past three months. Difficult to diagnose, the infection can cause a rare type of meningitis with severe headaches, stiff neck, low grade fever, nausea and vomiting.

The severity of the disease can vary wildly, there’s no known treatment, and it’s notoriously difficult to diagnose. Practice prevention.

  • Clean all produce, fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Do not handle any backyard slugs and snails with bare hands.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked snails, freshwater shrimp, crab or frogs.

View Rat Lungworm Parasite Detection in Slugs & Snails on Hawaiʻi Island in a large map.

Mahalo,
Pani Shoja, MD
Urgent Care Hawaii
Medical Director


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About Urgent Care Hawaii: Urgent Care Hawaii medical clinics provide immediate and urgent medical care on Oahu for Pearl City, Honolulu, Waikiki, Waipahu, Aiea, Kapolei, Kunia, Waipio, Makakilo, Halawa, Mililani, Kailua and Ewa Beach. The clinics provide quick and affordable options for people needing immediate medical care and treatment for common or everyday health problems seven days a week – no appointments are necessary. The Pearl City location is certified by The Urgent Care Association of America and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

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