At least two people on Hawaii's Big Island – one visitor and a resident – recently contracted "rat lungworm," state health officials said Wednesday. the disease while vacationing in North Hawaii last year. He or she first became ill in December of 2018 but was "not diagnosed until they were hospitalized for their symptoms when they returned to the continent," health officials said in a news release
MOM, SON CONTRACT 'RAT LUNGWORM' AFTER EAT RAW CENTIPEDES: REPORT
The visitor, who has since recovered, became the ninth confirmed case of rat lungworm in Hawaii in 2018.
More recently, health officials confirmed a case of rat lungworm ̵
This resident case is now the first confirmed case of the disease in Hawaii in 2019. [
"Determining the exact source of infection in any of the patients and possibly sources of infection" individual is challenging since it requires a deep dive into a person's food consumption history as well as where they may live, work, travel and recreate, "state health director Bruce Anderson said in a statement
Rat lungworm is a parasite that's found in rodents. The infected rodents then pass the parasite's larvae through their feces, later infecting snails and slugs, among other creatures, when they ingest the larvae. Humans who eat raw or undercooked snails or slugs that contain the parasite can be infected, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
Rat lungworm disease can have "debilitating effects on the infected person's brain and spinal cord," the Hawaii State Department of Health said, noting that most people in the state would become ill "by accidentally ingesting a snail or slug infected with the parasite."
"HAWAII CONFIRMS RAT LUNGWORM DISEASE IN BIG ISLAND INFANT
" Symptoms vary widely between cases, and the most common ones include severe headaches and neck stiffness.
The news comes after health officials in the state recently confirmed a 2018 case of rat lungworm in a Hawaii infant. That case marked the sixth confirmed case of lungworm rat on Hawaii's Big Island last year.
Alexandra Hein contributed to this report