The Hawaii Department of Health on Wednesday said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a laboratory-confirmed case of angiostrongyliasis — that is, rat lungworm disease.

It involves an adult visitor to Hawaii Island, and it brings the statewide total to six confirmed cases this year.

The disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm and can have “debilitating effects” on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord.

“The individual became ill in early February and was hospitalized on the mainland for a short time for their symptoms,” according to a DOH press release. “The investigation was not able to identify an exact source of infection. However, they reported eating a lot of fresh fruits and not washing them all before eating them.”

The DOH provides the following recommendations to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • “Wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove any tiny slugs or snails. Pay close attention to leafy greens.”
  • “Control snail, slug, and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms. Get rid of these vectors safely by clearing debris where they might live, and also using traps and baits. Always wear gloves for safety when working outdoors.”
  • “Inspect, wash, and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.”

For more information, click here.

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