Hawaii Agencies Hosting Meetings on Rat Lungworm Disease

The Department of Health reports that, so far in 2017, there have been 16 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease statewide. The average number of cases per year statewide typically ranges from two to 11.

Three meetings are scheduled on Oahu, the first one on Sept. 13, to inform residents -- especially farmers and home gardeners -- about rat lungworm disease, also known as angiostrongyliasis. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause a rare type of meningitis. The meetings are being coordinated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Health, and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

The Department of Health reports that, so far in 2017, there have been 16 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease statewide: nine on Hawaii Island, six on Maui, and one on Oahu. The average number of cases per year statewide typically ranges from two to 11.

People contract the disease by eating food contaminated by the larval stage of A. cantonensis worms. In Hawaii, these larval worms can be found in raw or undercooked snails or slugs; people can become infected by eating raw produce that contains a small infected snail or slug or part of one. The disease is not spread person-to-person.

The meetings have been scheduled for Sept. 13, 27, and 28, and the authorities are encouraging farmers, home gardeners, and interested individuals to attend. Agricultural and health officials will make brief presentations and provide information on how to reduce the risk of this disease and other foodborne illnesses, especially on farms and in gardens. Those with a Hawaii State Department of Agriculture Pesticide License will be able to obtain 2.0 HDOA Agricultural Pesticide Applicator CEUs for attending the entire presentation.

For more information on disease, visit this CDC page.

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