Want to keep the Rat Lungworm from coming to dinner? Since the world is filled with parasites, and the best way to protect yourself from them is by not ingesting them in the first place. A joint educational effort between several agencies invites you to learn how you can avoid the Rat Lungworm, aka Angiostrongylus Cantonensis, a parasite that has now appeared on some of the Hawaiian Islands.
You can contract the lungworm by eating raw snails or slugs off produce. This parasitic nematode lives in the lungs of rats, which is then passed on to slugs and snails that may come in contact with the rat feces. These slugs or snails may come into contact with your uncooked produce and, if not washed properly and accidentally consumed, may end up causing severe symptoms from headache and nausea to coma and death, though some people never exhibit any symptoms at all.
There will be a free informational seminar on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 5:40pm to 7:30pm at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) cooperative Extension Building on the UH Maui Campus. Speakers will include Dr. Rob Cowie, UH Manoa Pacific Biosciences Research Center; Dr. Sue Jarvi, UH Hilo College of Pharmacy; Dr. John Martell, Hilo Medical Center; Takako Nakaaki, epidemiology specialist, Maui District Health Office; and Jim Hollyer, UH Manoa CTAHR Program Manager and Farm Food Safety Coach.
The evening will cover a bit more about the biology of these nearly invisible nematodes and how to manage it better in gardens and farms and when consuming produce. For more information contact Luisa Castro, educator for CTAHR office, at 808-244-3242 ext. 232.