Oysters transmit human parasites

Rising number of cases: when worms eat their way into the human brain

In the recent past, an insidious worm has plagued residents and visitors to the islands of the remote US state of Hawaii.

In the past three months alone, the US health authorities reported six patients with rat lungworms (Angiostylus cantonensis). Only two diseases had been observed in the entire past decade.

What is worrying about the infections is the sometimes excruciating course of the infestation: although many people can get rid of the animals without symptoms, in particularly bad cases the parasitic larva of the worm works its way into the nervous system and into the brain of the infected. A kind of meningitis develops, which causes severe headaches, tremors, numbness and fever. Some patients die from the disease.

Larvae in the feces of rats

The main host of the nematode is the rat. It distributes the larvae of the parasite in the environment through its excrement; Snails, crabs, crabs, fish and frogs ingest the worm larvae and also contribute to their spread. If people come into contact with contaminated fruit and vegetables or with the animals mentioned above, infection can occur.

In the online portal “Honolulu Civil Beat”, a sick person describes the “horror of rat lungworm disease”. After the 47-year-old had been treated unsuccessfully for flu for several days, the doctors were able to make the correct diagnosis.