A nasty biological cycle involving infected snails and host rats produces rat lungworm disease, which has raised its profile this year in Hawaii with six confirmed cases on Maui and three on the Big Island.

Mollusk expert Robert Cowie sat down with Civil Beat last week to discuss in detail the “basic biology” of the parasites — enough detail to make you squirm as snails or slugs eat rat feces and rats eat snails or slugs and so forth.

Ultimately, humans accidentally eat tiny, often transluscent baby snails attached to produce, and end up with worms in their brains and potentially a host of health problems.

But the University of Hawaii research professor also provides information to help you avoid becoming the next human victim. He talks about whether the snails’ slime also contains the worms and whether diluted solutions are any better than water for cleaning raw produce.

Here’s Robert Cowie:

Understanding Rat Lungworm Disease

How much do you value our journalism?

Civil Beat focuses exclusively on the kind of journalism most at risk of disappearing – in-depth, investigative and enterprise coverage of important local issues. While producing this type of journalism isn’t cheap, you won’t find our content hidden behind a paywall. We also never worry about upsetting advertisers – because we don’t allow any. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on donations from readers like you to help keep our stories free and accessible to everyone. If you value our journalism, show us with your support.

 

About the Author