Angiostrongylus cantonensis, also known as rat lungworm, is a type of parasite that causes angiostrongyliasis, which is the most common cause of meningitis. People with a serious infection can go into a coma or die. This parasite has since invaded Hawaii by traveling on its array of hosts.
Hawaii, as well as areas in the Southeastern United States, contains rats that carry this parasite. A study has illustrated that a quarter of the rats that were tested by researchers showed evidence of this parasite.
This same study showed that rat lungworm can be transmitted between mollusks such as snails and slugs to rats and then ultimately to humans.
In humans, it can induce fever, headache, a stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can cause meningitis and ultimately result in a coma or death.
The researchers collected more than 170 rats and found the parasite in 39 rats.
They also said that when this parasite gets transmitted to humans it cannot reproduce or grow and will live out its life in the host.
When an animal eats a snail or frog or other crustaceans, such as a shrimp, the animal becomes infected with the parasite and the rat lungworm begins to grow.
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