The island of Maui health officials has recently declared that there’s an unusual spike in rat lungworm disease. Whereas there only ten confirmed cases per year, the Hawaiian health officials have now identified a sixth patient infected with the rat-borne brain-borrowing parasite. The authorities now urge the population to refrain from touching slugs or rats and to thoroughly wash their fruits and vegetables, regardless of the source.
According to the Hawaiian health officials, in the last three months, approximately six cases of the rat lungworm disease have been confirmed. The condition is caused by Angiostrongylus cantonesis roundworm which infects rats. However, through rat feces, the parasite can contaminate other animals like frogs, shrimps, slugs, and snails.
The Hawaiian health authorities said that a person could become infected if they touch contaminated animals or if they handle or eat contaminated food. As far as symptoms go, the Maui health officials said that, in most cases, the patient’s own immune system is more than enough to repel the parasite.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the rat lungworm disease parasite manages to sneak inside the patient’s brain, tamper with the nervous system, and cause a condition known as parasitic meningitis. The symptoms associated with this condition are tremors, high-degree fever, headaches, and numbness.
The Hawaiian health authorities warned that if the disease is not addressed in time, it could result in the death of the patient.
Tricia Mynar, a preschool worker, and a Maui resident is one of the people who contracted the dangerous rat lungworm disease. Given the severity of the infection, the preschool teacher is now forced to use a walker in order to move around. She describes the condition as being one of the painful things a human being could experience, making childbirth look like a walk in the park.
Mynar declared that feeling the parasite moving through your brain is like having someone sticking a needle in the back of your head and moving it slowly inside. One of the Hawaiian health officials declared that some of the patients who experience first-hand the excruciating pains of the roundworm parasite said that it feels more like a slow-motion bullet passing through your skull. What’s even worse is that it has no discernable rhythm and it can change direction at any given time.
In order to prevent a full-fledged outbreak, the Hawaiian health officials have asked the local population to refrain from touching slugs, frogs, rats, and shrimps and to thoroughly wash the food, no matter where it came from.
Image source: Flickr
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