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Rat lungworm Disease in Hawaii

Dr. Robert Cowie of PBRC discusses the rat lungworm problem in Hawaii in an
interview for ThinkTechHawaii that aired live on 10 March 2017. The rat
lungworm is a parasite with a natural life cycle that involves snails and
rats as hosts. However, if someone eats a raw or undercooked snail or slug
they can become infected by the parasite, which moves to the brain and can
cause serious neurological problems, a condition known as eosinophilic
meningitis. Dr. Cowie discusses the main ways in which people are infected,
probably most commonly by inadvertently eating a small snail or slug
(babies may only be a few tenths of an inch in size) among the leaves of
produce such as lettuce or other leafy greens. At this time the parasite
occurs only in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, but if
purchasing produce locally in Hawaii Dr. Cowie strongly recommends washing
it thoroughly under cold tap water to remove any snails or slugs.

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