Researchers discovered a rare parasite which attacks the brain. Its spread seems to be triggered by climate change. In Hawaii, health officials have risen awareness among residents regarding this rare parasite which might be carried by slugs and snails. People were advised to avoid touching snails to prevent contracting the parasite called rat lungworm.
The rare parasite is quickly spreading across the United States
The sudden spread of this virus across the US was related to climate change. During the past twenty years, in Hawaii were reported only two cases of rat lungworm infections. However, in the last three months, authorities discovered six more such cases. There are other states, like Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and California, where the parasite has appeared.
Based on the data provided by the Atlantic the first documented case of this infection appeared in Taiwan back in 1944. Nevertheless, in the past few years, the rare parasite is believed to have spread in the US through rats wandering in cargo ships. Rat lungworm represents a parasitic nematode, namely Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which starts as an infection in the lungs, brains, and blood of rats.
Specialists claim that the rat lungworm is carried by freshwater shrimp, snails and slugs
Due to the infection, rats defecate worm larvae which may be easily contracted by other animals or insects like slugs, snails, and freshwater shrimp. Without knowing it, humans may eat products which contain this parasite, or they can consume shrimps, which are infected hosts. The next stage consists of the larvae infecting the human brain. This can trigger the development of meningitis.
The disease has symptoms which include inflammation, pain, and tremors and it is fatal in most cases. The recent rat lungworm infection cases were reported by The Maui News and they discussed with residents the threat posed by this rare parasite. Locals argued that they started planting slug bait in their yards and avoid consuming any product which might have been in contact with the host.
Because this area prospers due to tourism, preventing people from eating local food due to an infection might be a disaster. A local preschool who was infected with the parasite explained how she felt when diagnosed with parasitic meningitis. She reveals that she suffered great pain since the parasites were moving in the lining of her brain. Unfortunately, the severity of the illness can widely vary, and specialists claim that there is no treatment for this infection.
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