An American tourist who ate a snail on a challenge was among three recently infected with rat lungworms in Hawaii, according to health officials (pdf). All three visited us from the USA.
As the name implies, the rat lungworm is caused by the parasitic roundworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis which infects the lungs of rats. The parasite then finds its way into snails, which are then eaten by rats and complete the cycle.
In humans, it mainly infects translucent baby snails, which can have thousands of worms and hide on unwashed products.
According to health officials, one person was infected in December after "deliberately eating a snail on a challenge". The others should have taken the infection in the typical way: by eating unwashed salad and vegetables.  The December case brought the total annual number of infections to 10 in 2018.
According to CDC, symptoms vary, but may include severe headaches or neck stiffness. In rare cases, this can lead to neurological problems, severe pain or even long-term disability.
"People with symptoms of bacterial meningitis such as nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness and headaches, which are often global and serious. "According to CDC. "In addition, abnormal sensations of the arms and legs may occur."
Most infections resolve spontaneously without treatment, as the worm, according to CDC, can not last long in the human body.
"Serious complications can rarely occur, resulting in neurological dysfunction or death."
In Australia, an aspiring 19-year-old athlete got seizures, became paralyzed and died last year after his brain had been infected by a rat lungworm.
Sam Ballard died in November 2018 after years of seizures and was forced to eat and breathe through tubes with constant care.
The fate of the young rugby player from Sydney, whose mother previously described him as "invincible". turned in 2010 at a party.
"Twenty-year-old boys, red wine, alcohol sitting at a friend's table – a snail is on the table, someone joking about a challenge," his mother Katie Ballard told 7 News Sydney a year later in an interview. "Boys will be boys," she said.
Ballard fell ill and was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with rat lungworm, news.com.au reported.
Hawaiian health officials recommend the following steps to prevent infection:
- Wash fruits and vegetables under clean, running water to remove small snails or snails. Pay special attention to leafy vegetables.
- Control snail, snail and rat populations in homes, gardens and farms by removing debris and using traps and baits.
- Always wear gloves when working outdoors.
- Examine, wash, and store products in sealed containers, whether they are from a local retailer, a farmers market, or a backyard garden.