Rat lungworm can infect the brain
Cases of an infectious parasite known as rat lungworm have been popping up over the US, leaving health experts worried many more in the nation is at risk.
Nine cases have been confirmed in Hawaii in the last month, with other cases recorded in California, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida during the same time period, even though there were only two recorded cases in the US in the past 200 years before this outbreak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rat Lungworm, officially known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, affects the brain and spinal cord.
The disease is typically carried by rats which begins as an infection in the rodents’ blood, lungs and brain.
The parasite is usually spread by rats
The rats then defecates the larvae of the parasite which in turn spreads to snails, slugs and sea critters which are then consumed by humans.
However, the CDC says that “Diagnosing A. cantonensis infections can be difficult, in part because there are no readily available blood tests.”
The infection can cause headaches
In extremely rare cases, the disease can lead to death but once on the brain it can cause symptoms similar to meningitis.
Tricia Mynar, a resident of Maui and a preschool worker, told Honolulu Civil Beat: “The parasites are in the lining of my brain, moving around.
“Tremors are the hardest part.
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“They affect me so badly that sometimes I can’t hear my own speech.”
While experts are unsure of the sudden rise, it is suspected that climate change is playing its part as well as more global travel.