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Stressed snails and slugs may spread rat lungworm through slime

Can humans become infected with the rat lungworm parasite from snail slime, if an infected snail or slug leaves slime on a lettuce leaf? That is the question University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers set out to answer in a study published in One Health.

Randi Rollins, Matthew Medeiros and Robert Cowie of UH Mānoa’s Pacific Biosciences Research Center, found that rat lungworm larvae (the third larval stage worms, which are the only ones that are infectious to humans and other animals) are present in snail slime when the snails are exposed to stress. The findings indicated that 13% of stressed snails released larvae, compared to none in a non-stressed control group.

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