DOH confirms state’s 5th rat lungworm disease case on Hawaii Island

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The Hawai’i Department of Health has confirmed a case of rat lungworm disease in a toddler from East Hawaii Island. 

Laboratory results confirmed traces of the rat lungworm disease parasite in the child’s spinal fluid. 

This is the third confirmed case of rat lungworm disease contracted on Hawai’i Island this year and the fifth confirmed case statewide in 2018.

The child became sick in late July and was emitted to a Hawaii Island emergency room last week. 

The patient was then hospitalized and transferred to Oahu for further care. 

The child spent several days in the hospital and was discharged upon improvement of their symptoms. 

DOH officials are in the process of conducting a detailed investigation to learn more about the patient and possible sources of infection.

DOH provides the following recommendations to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • Control snail, slug, and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms. Get rid of these vectors safely by clearing debris where they might live, and also using traps and baits. Always wear gloves for safety when working outdoors.
  • Inspect, wash and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails. Pay close attention to leafy greens.

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