DOH to host informational meeting about rat lungworm

The state Department of Health is hosting an informational meeting about rat lungworm disease from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, April 22, at the North Kohala Public Library, located at 54-3645 Akoni Pule Highway, in Kapaau.

Anyone interested in learning more about rat lungworm and how to prevent its spread are encouraged to attend. The disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm and can have debilitating effects on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord.

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DOH public health experts are bringing together local partners to educate attendees about key information they should know to protect themselves from rat lungworm. Partners will offer presentations as follows:

• Disease information and prevention (DOH).

• Pest control for growers and gardeners (state Department of Agriculture).

• An update on research efforts (University of Hawaii at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy).

• Recent semi-slug findings (Big Island Invasive Species Committee).

• Preliminary clinical guidelines on diagnosis and treatment (governor’s task force on rat lungworm disease/UH John A. Burns School of Medicine).

So far in 2019, there have been two confirmed cases of rat lungworm. Both individuals are Hawaii County residents, and one of them is from the North Kohala area.

The Big Island Invasive Species Committee announced earlier this year that Kohala Middle School students recently confirmed the presence of semi-slugs, as part of a citizen science program developed by the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and supported by DOH. Semi-slugs are invasive to Hawaii and very effective carriers of the parasite that causes rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

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For updates about the meeting, visit the Hawaii Public State Library System website at www.librarieshawaii.org/event/public-health-presentation-rat-lungworm-disease/.

All programs are subject to change and space is limited. Those who require an auxiliary aid or accommodation because of a disability should contact the library at 889-6655.

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