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Hawaii sees spike in brain-infecting parasite

Hawaii sees spike in brain-infecting parasite

A sharp rise in infections stemming from a parasitic worm that invades the human brain has health officials in the Hawaiian island of Maui anxious.

Hawaii's second largest island has seen only two cases of the disease - known to the medical community as Angiostrongylus - in the past decade.

The parasite can live in the body for months and cause permanent damage as it can invade the brain and its membrane. As far as symptoms go, the Maui health officials said that, in most cases, the patient's own immune system is more than enough to repel the parasite. A rare case can cause neurological problems or even death though the majority of infected people completely recover without any treatment, the CDC added.

Three of the cases have been confirmed, while a seventh involves a Maui woman who believes she contracted the parasite on the Big Island, Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said Tuesday.

In 2016, more than 30 countries have presented cases of this rare parasitic disease.

She reveals that she suffered great pain since the parasites were moving in the lining of her brain. My visual graphic for what's happening is that every once in a while somebody opens the top of my head, sets a hot iron inside my brain, then pushes the steam button.

Rat lungworm infection is spread primarily through rats, which act as hosts to adult worms.

Okubo added that the parasite has been found in slugs and snails on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii islands. These are intermediate hosts that shed the worm. The authorities now urge the population to refrain from touching slugs or rats and to thoroughly wash their fruits and vegetables, regardless of the source.

Officials from Maui, Hawaii, have warned citizens about certain locations to stay away from snails or slugs as contact with them with bare skin could lead to the development of the brain-invading parasite, also called rat lungworm. The bursa is one indication that this is a male worm. Experts are trying to determine the best way to deal with the infection. The current number confirmed with the infection is quite a high jump from the numbers in the past reports as reported by The Maui News.

An alsation semi-slug. Image credit: IUCN. They're taking steps to knock back the population, as well as rein in the rats.

It is indicated that the rat lungworm is hard to diagnose and worse it has no treatment as of this time. There are four more cases that are under investigation, the local news outlet added.

The first human case was recorded in 1944 in Taiwan, and it was thought to be spread around during World War II.

This parasite is prevalent in the tropical Pacific islands as well as in Southeast Asia.

The constant increase in shipping around Hawaii, particularly ships traveling through the Panama Canal, is suspected to play a key role in the sudden increase in rat lungworm infections.

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