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Slugs, Snails Are Not Alone In Inflicting Rat Lungworm Illness In People

A evaluation of a long time of analysis revealed greater than a dozen sorts of animals along with slugs and snails have brought about rat lungworm illness in folks all over the world.

Researchers from the College of Hawai’i at Mānoa and the College of London (UK) combed via almost 140 scientific research revealed between 1962 and 2022 and located 32 species of freshwater prawns/shrimp, crayfish, crabs, flatworms, fish, sea snakes, frogs, toads, lizards, centipedes, cattle, pigs, and snails can act as carriers of the rat lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus cantonensis). Of those, a minimum of 13 species of prawns/shrimp, crabs, flatworms, fish, frogs, toads, lizards, and centipedes have been related to inflicting rat lungworm illness in people.

This work was the grasp’s diploma thesis analysis of the primary creator, Helena Turck, as a part of a graduate program in One Well being collectively run by the Royal Veterinary Faculty and the London Faculty of Hygiene and Tropical Drugs, each a part of the College of London, UK. Robert Cowie, senior creator on the research and college member within the UH Mānoa Faculty of Ocean and Earth Science and Expertise (SOEST), supervised Turck’s analysis remotely in the course of the pandemic and co-authored the brand new publication. Professor Mark Fox of the Royal Veterinary Faculty can be a co-author of the research.

Cowie defined that the rat lungworm has a posh life cycle that entails slugs and snails as so-called “intermediate” hosts and rats as “definitive” hosts through which the worms attain maturity and reproduce. Rats develop into contaminated after they eat an contaminated snail or slug. Folks additionally develop into contaminated after they eat an contaminated snail or slug, and this will result in critical sickness and infrequently demise.

People, unintended hosts

“However folks also can get contaminated in the event that they eat so-called paratenic hosts, that are also called service hosts,” mentioned Cowie, who’s a analysis professor within the Pacific Biosciences Analysis Heart at SOEST. “These are animals that develop into contaminated by consuming contaminated snails or slugs, however through which the worms can’t develop to maturity as they do in a rat. Nevertheless, in such hosts the worms develop into dormant, however nonetheless infective. And if one in all these hosts, or a part of one, is then eaten uncooked by an individual – an unintended host – improvement can proceed, however solely up to a degree.”

That time is when they’re within the particular person’s mind, the place they’re transferring round, feeding, and rising. However then the worms die. The injury to the mind and the large irritation that outcomes after they die is primarily what causes the signs of rat lungworm illness.

“You will need to know not solely that snails and slugs can transmit rat lungworm parasites to people but in addition which different animals – which paratenic hosts – also can accomplish that,” Cowie mentioned. “So the purpose of the research, was to drag all the data on paratenic hosts and their position in transmission of rat lungworm illness, beforehand scattered in various publications and obscure reviews, collectively into one place and develop a worldwide understanding of their range and position in illness transmission.”

Rat lungworm illness across the globe

Rat lungworm illness is at current confined largely to the tropics and subtropics, notably components of South and Southeast Asia, the place it most likely originated, southern China, Taiwan, southern Japan, numerous Pacific islands and archipelagos, and extra lately Brazil, Caribbean islands, and Australia. The parasite has additionally been reported from the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands of Spain, in addition to southeastern components of the US, the place there have been a handful of circumstances of rat lungworm illness. Local weather change could result in its additional unfold into at present extra temperate areas.

Hawai’i is a worldwide middle of the incidence of rat lungworm illness, and certainly it was in Hawai’i the place the connection between the parasite and the illness was first found, by College of Hawai’i and US authorities scientists within the early Sixties.

“A number of species able to appearing as carriers (paratenic hosts) are current in Hawai’i, together with flatworms, centipedes, coqui frogs, and cane toads,” mentioned Cowie. “Whereas folks in Hawai’i are unlikely to eat these animals, it isn’t unknown for folks to take action on a dare, and develop into critically ailing. Elsewhere, sure paratenic hosts are eaten for supposed well being causes – frogs in Taiwan and Japan, or to boost virility – lizards in Thailand.”

Home animals, particularly canines and horses, also can develop into contaminated by the rat lungworm parasite, together with in Hawai’i, most likely largely from by chance or intentionally consuming snails or slugs.

Stopping an infection

There are a number of issues folks can do to stop an infection by rat lungworm.

“Consciousness of which species could harbor the parasite is critically essential each in Hawai’i and extra broadly,” mentioned Cowie. “These animals shouldn’t be consumed uncooked. Moreover, wash all fruit and veggies properly beneath working water and examine them for slugs, snails and attainable different hosts resembling flatworms in order to keep away from inadvertently consuming them or components of them.”


College of Hawai’i at Mānoa



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