Veggies may harbor a rare parasite

Rat lungworm is a tropical disease found in warm, moist climes that is caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasitic worm carried by rats (the parasites live in the pulmonary arteries of rats, hence the name “rat lungworm”). The rats excrete worm larvae in their feces, which are sometimes eaten by small snails and slugs that often nestle in the folds of lettuce, peppers and other produce. 

When people ingest the worm, it travels from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system. Most people experience no symptoms or only mild ones such as muscle aches and sensitivity to light and recover without treatment, in most cases without ever suspecting a parasite (which typically dies off in a few weeks).

And the news is:  Three people in Hawaii have come down with what such a rare parasitic disease called rat lungworm disease in recent weeks.

The best way to avoid rat lungworm disease? Don’t eat raw snails or slugs and wash your vegetables and fruits very well,  with noting that they are small [as short as 2 mm in length] and can easily escape notice if hiding in creases of produce.

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