State confirms third rat lungworm disease case on Hawaii Island in 2019

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed a case of rat lungworm disease (angiostrongyliasis) contracted on Hawaii Island. The individual is a resident of East Hawaii and is the third person from Hawaii County to test positive for angiostrongyliasis in 2019, bringing the statewide total to three laboratory-confirmed cases this year.

Health officials learned recently about the case, although the individual may have been infected as early as February. Laboratory testing though DOH’s State Laboratories Division confirmed the individual’s infection in mid-April. The individual was hospitalized, and the exact source of infection could not be identified.

“Diagnosis and treatment of this disease is incredibly difficult, especially since there is still much we don’t know about the parasite and the disease,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “The Governor’s Joint Task Force on Rat Lungworm Disease has done extensive work to develop preliminary clinical guidance for local physicians who may encounter patients with the disease and physician trainings will continue this year. That work, along with immediate reporting by physicians is critical to facilitate prompt, accurate diagnosis and appropriate patient management.”

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