New rat lungworm cases confirmed by Department of Health on Hawaii Island

(KHON)  Two new cases of rat lungworm on Hawaii Island were confirmed today by the Hawaii Department of Health. Another four cases are considered highly probable due to exposure through the same method.

All six cases are adults who were hospitalized, and their illnesses reported to the department over the past weekend.

The adults became infected with rat lungworm at a home in Keaau a few weeks after drinking homemade kava. They left the prepared kava in uncovered buckets overnight. The kava was poured into a large bowl and after consuming most of it, they noticed a slug at the bottom of the bowl.

The department said it is not clear what type of slug caused the infections.

“Cases like this recent cluster are especially concerning because they can be prevented with basic precautions such as storing food in covered containers and properly inspecting and washing food before eating. These healthy habits can protect against food contamination and prevent serious illnesses,” Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said.

There have been a total of 11 confirmed cases of rat lungworm infection this year in the state.

Earlier this year, four Maui resident cases, two non-resident cases who were visitors to Maui, and three Hawaii Island resident cases were confirmed.

The two cases confirmed today were Hawaii Island residents and of the four probable cases, three were Hawaii Island residents and one was a resident of Maui who traveled to Hawaii Island.

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