First rat lungworm case of 2018 confirmed

The first case of rat lungworm disease in a human of 2018 was confirmed in a West Hawaii resident.

The person became seriously ill in February and is hospitalized.

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Lab tests showed parasite evidence in the individual’s spinal fluid, the state reported Friday. It’s unclear how parasite exposure happened.

The disease occurs when a human ingests a slug or snail infested with parasitic larvae. The state advises controlling snail, slug and rat populations near properties, especially with home gardens, school gardens and farms.

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Symptoms vary but can include severe headache, stiff neck and pain.

The state says inspect and thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, especially leafy greens such as lettuce. Also, cooking produce thoroughly kills the parasite.