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Rat lung worms infect people who accidentally eat snails and snails



  • A new comprehensive study of rat lung worm parasite counted 82 human cases between 2007 and 2017. Two of them were fatal.
  • Scientists know that the disease is spread through molluscs such as snails and snails, but it is not clear how it goes from there into the human body.
  • However, once in the body, the parasite travels to the central nervous system. A healthy immune system can kill it but makes you sick in the process.

A parasite found in rats and spread to snails and snails has made people in Hawaii sick in the past decade, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Since 2007, 82 people have reported severe illness, including nausea, headache and partial paralysis or blindness, believed to be from the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, better known as the rat lung worm.

The parasite enters the human body when people eat snails or snails that carry it. But except in a case where a victim ate a slug on a dry, most people are not deliberately eating snails. So how are they infected?

Read more: An Australian man died eight years after eating a garden nut on a peat

Scientists theorize that people who eat unwashed products consume small snails or snails hidden in their green green or fresh fruits

The study showed that the majority of patients with rat lungworm reported that they ate unwashed products at least some of the time. Researchers also examined other potential factors, including food sources and food storage. While only two patients said they stored food outside, more than half said they stored some food in unsealed containers.

Researchers noted that other activities such as growing food and keeping pets (whose food can attract the snail) can also increase the risk of infection.

Most of the patients had observed snails or snails on their property, and two-thirds had seen signs of rats.

Very small "half-birds" can carry high concentrations of the parasite and easily hide in products, making people sick.
Hawaii Department of Health

Scientists identified a particular species known as a half-point as a skilled climber seeking food sources and carrying a particularly high concentration of the parasite. The young of this kind can be as small as 2 millimeters in length – approx. twice the width of the tip of a pencil. This would make them almost impossible to look at a fresh bunch of leafy green and easy to swallow in a bite of raw apple or carrot.

Once inside the body, the parasite tries to attack the central nervous system.

The human body can kill the parasite before it reaches the brain, but the immune response causes serious disease.

White blood cells flood the brain and spinal cord to fight the invading rat lung worm that causes headaches, stiff neck and nausea. Sometimes the parasite can lead to more severe symptoms such as impaired vision and facial or limb paralysis. In the most severe cases, it can lead to meningitis and rarely be fatal.

Symptoms vary by age group; The study included people between 9 months and 82 years old. Children are more likely to experience fever, vomiting and fatigue, while people over 10 years of age often reported head and body pain.

In all cases, but a few cases, the infection does not require treatment, but spreads only after the parasites die according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In severe cases, medications can treat the symptoms of the parasite caused by the body's immune system and not the bay itself.

The study did not find an increase in cases over time. However, researchers noted that infections occurred mainly during the rainy season and were concentrated mainly on "hot spot" areas on the east side of the large island of Hawaii.


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