Rat lungworm on agenda

HONOLULU — The state Department of Health has been working with the Governor’s Joint Task Force on Rat Lungworm Disease to better provide widespread education about the risks associated with this debilitating disease and how to prevent it, as well as address issues around diagnosis and treatment.

This week, a contingent of task force members are attending the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting, which takes place through Thursday in Baltimore, Maryland.

They are meeting with national and international experts to discuss controversial concerns around the diagnosis and treatment of rat lungworm disease. After attending the meeting, their goal is to develop evidence-based, clinical-practice guidelines, to be used as a critical resource by practicing physicians statewide.

“In addition to the devastating effects this disease can have on its victims, the core issue is that there just isn’t much information on how to best diagnose and treat those who are infected,” said Dr. Kenton Kramer, associate professor with the John A. Burns School of Medicine and task force chairperson.

“We recognize the frustration people feel when repeat medical visits are needed to diagnose symptoms, and that treatment options are slim and not always effective,” Kramer said.

There is no cure available for rat lungworm disease. Treatment options are typically supportive by using steroids to reduce inflammation.

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