Three cases of brain-infecting parasite recently confirmed in Hawaii

Is…Zombie Apocalypse upon us?


Last December, a tourist in Hawaii ate a slug on a dare — not realizing, of course, a wiggly brain-loving parasite was along for the ride.

After accidentally ingesting the larvae of the parasitic rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) that was hiding inside the slug, the person contracted angiostrongyliasis, or rat lungworm disease, becoming one of three recently confirmed cases of the infection, according to a May 23 statement from the Hawaii Department of Health.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases of this parasitic infection to 10 in 2018 and five in 2019.

This parasite typically lays eggs in a rodent’s pulmonary arteries — passageways for blood traveling from the heart to the lungs — and once those eggs hatch, the resulting larvae can travel up to the rodent’s throat area; the rodent then swallows them and poops them out, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This parasite-packed poop becomes a meal for slugs and snails.

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