Rat Lungworm Disease Crashes a Hawaiian Honeymoon

 

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A California couple never thought an unwanted predator would travel home with them from their Hawaii honeymoon.

Newlyweds Ben Manilla, 64, and Eliza Lape, 57, returned to San Francisco with rat lungworm disease, a parasite that infects rats, snails, and slugs.

Manilla and Lape said, “I do,” in Hawaii in January, spending two weeks in the Hana area of Maui. Lape experienced symptoms right before leaving Maui.

“My symptoms started growing to feeling like somebody was taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body,” Lape told Hawaii News Now.

After a month in the ICU, Manilla remains hospitalized. He has undergone several surgeries and is currently dealing with a kidney issue, according to CBS News.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says rat lung disease, or Angiostrongylus, is a parasitic worm that can cause gastrointestinal or central nervous system damage.

Rat lung disease often causes a rare form of meningitis that causes symptoms like: nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, stiffness of the neck, sensitivity to light, and tingling sensations in the skin. Symptoms typically begin one to three weeks after the initial exposure, according to the Hawaiian Disease Outbreak Control Division.

Since the start of 2017, there have been six reported cases of rat lung disease in Hawaii.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says the recent spike in cases is concerning because only 10 cases are reported each year for the entire state, according to CBS News.

The CDC says there is no cure for rat lung disease.

There are some prevention measures, including washing fruits and vegetables before eating them. Officials also urge those traveling to areas in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands to avoid eating raw snails, slugs, freshwater shrimp, land crabs, and frogs.

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