HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Health on Thursday confirmed a case of rat lungworm disease (angiostrongyliasis) contracted on Hawaii Island. The individual is a resident of North Hawaii and is the second person from Hawaii County to test positive for angiostrongyliasis in 2019, bringing the statewide total to two cases this year.
Health officials learned recently about the adult resident of North Hawaii, who became ill in January, according to a press release. Laboratory testing though DOH’s State Laboratories Division confirmed the individual’s infection in late February. The individual was hospitalized for a short time and has since recovered.
Disease investigators conducted a detailed investigation to learn more about possible sources of infection. The exact source of infection could not be identified, but investigators learned the individual had a home garden on their property. It is likely the individual accidentally consumed a slug or snail while eating produce from their garden.
“In Hawaii, we need to treat all slugs and snails as if they are infected with the parasite that causes rat lungworm disease, and this means washing all produce no matter where it comes from, whether it’s from the grocery store, the farmer’s market or grown in our own home gardens and yards,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Washing all produce carefully and thoroughly using clean, running water is the most effective way to remove unwanted slugs or snails from fresh fruits and vegetables.”