Rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode, has been found in five Florida counties so far. The lungworm depends on rat and snail hosts to complete its life-cycle. To become infected, both humans and animals must eat the snails or infected frogs or crustaceans.
Although the fatality rate in infected humans is low, the parasite can cause eosinophilic meningitis if it dies in a person’s brain which can lead to a coma and/or death.
Adults who become infected suffer from headaches, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, nausea, and paralysis. Children suffer from nausea, vomiting and fever.
Animals that are infected can get meningitis, weakness in their limbs or even paralysis, neck pain and central nervous system problems.
Prevention involves washing produce since snails can be very small. Children should be taught not to handle or eat snails. If they handle a snail they must wash their hands. To prevent infection in pets, check their living area including watering troughs or dishes, and watch to make sure that your animals do not eat snails.
5 thoughts on “Rat lungworm can cause meningitis in humans and animals”
They have been having problems with this on the Big Island of Hawaii, and Maui — just awful :((
“It’s infective to rats, but it’s also infective to humans and dogs — and we’ve had a lot of cases in horses that have had to be put down because the slug or possibly even the slime trail from the slug or snail is infected,” explained UH Hilo College of Pharmacy Researcher Dr. Susan Jarvi . . .
Thank you for sharing this. I suspect that most warmer climates have it, even if it has not been detected yet. I wish there was something we could do to prevent it.
I had not heard of it before my Hawaii encounter, when a couple of years ago two young healthy hippies died . . . from eating lettuce! Had no idea Florida has it. Glad you posted this! Awareness is key!
As I said before, I suspect it is more widespread than we think. Washing lettuce and other produce in areas that are infected is important. You may want to follow my blog. I post other information as well.
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Yes — thank you :))