Seventh case of rat lungworm confirmed

HONOLULU — The state Department of Health has received notification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a laboratory-confirmed case of angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm disease, in an adult visitor to Hawaii Island.

With the additional case confirmed by CDC, this brings the statewide total to seven cases of individuals confirmed with angiostrongyliasis in 2019. This includes three residents and four visitors all of which likely contracted the disease on Hawaii Island.

The seventh individual was an adult resident of the U.S. mainland and was traveling in West Hawaii when they were infected with the parasite causing rat lungworm disease. The individual became ill in late June and did not seek medical care until the end of July after reoccurring dizziness. They were hospitalized on the mainland for a short time for their symptoms. The investigation was not able to identify an exact source of infection. However, the individual reported eating a lot of fresh, local produce without washing first. They also grew a number of herbs on their lanai during their visit.

“Thoroughly inspecting and rinsing all fresh fruits and vegetables under clean, running water can go a long way in making our food safer to eat, and it is the most effective way to remove pests and other contaminants,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “When in doubt, cooking food by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes or heating to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds can kill the parasite that causes rat lungworm disease.”

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