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Brain-Infecting Worms Are Becoming Frequent In Hawaii

Travelers Today       By    Glory Moralidad

Updated: Apr 12, 2017 06:29 AM EDT

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Rat lungworm, Rat lungworm disease, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, health, health news

Rat lungworms penetrating and infecting people's brain in Hawaii made officials cower because the incidents are becoming frequent. In Maui, there are already six cases of the Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or rat lungworm disease recorded by the state within three months. It happens to be quite worrying, especially that before there were only two cases of the infection registered in a decade's time.

Only rats become hosts of the parasite, which they would excrete in the form of fecal matter that will carry larvae of the organism, according to GMA News. A person who handles an item or animals infected with the parasite will be infected. This can be picked up coming in contact with vegetables, fruits, pets or marine animals.

Science Alert reported preschool teacher, Tricia Mynar, as saying, "The parasites are in the lining of my brain, moving around." She also said that she could feel the worm traveling from her brain to the spine. Mynar lost the sense of feeling on her three toes. She also feels a burning sensation on her arm.

Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park told Fox News, "It's like having a slow-moving bullet go through your brain." When the larvae come in contact with a human, it'll grow to an inch-long worm just within six months and causes permanent brain damage. It's not lethal, but it would induce symptoms like heavy vomiting and headaches and even paralysis of the face.

Hawaii only has two cases, but it has 10 recorded logs of people carrying the infection in a year. Officials got worried and had asked whether something has changed to spike the number of infections in the island. Authorities advise locals and tourists alike to wash the vegetables and fruits properly and avoid uncooked meat of animals.

There are no treatments for the infection as of the moment, and scientists have yet to discover an angiostrongyliasis cure. For now, it's only painkillers for the victims.

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