Florida scientists have found traces of rat lungworm in five counties, encouraging the idea that this fatal parasite may expand its geographical range owing to climate change.
This may sound familiar, if you are thinking of rat lungworm infections recent rash in Hawaii. In the recent few months, nearly six cases reported fast succession. it is that the parasitic worm spreads unholy alliance between rats and snails, endemic to Hawaii, is detected in Alabama, California, Florida and Louisiana.
And as a new study published reveals in PLOS One, the disease’s geographic extent is far greater than assumed. The new research is adding weight to the idea that climate change is playing a role in the subtropical worm’s range expansion.
Rat lungworm is a serious health risk to humans and other animals ingesting snails. The fatality rates for this disease are low, but the parasite can cause meningitis, and severe infections leading to coma or death. In adults, the infection signs may include headaches, vomiting, stiff neck, fever, nausea, and paralysis of the limbs and the face. Infected children may have nausea, fever and vomiting. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, for an A. cantonensis infection there is no treatment.
This malicious worm requires two species for its lifecycle. Snails ingest the parasite by eating the rat faces infected. In turn, rats eat the infected snails, and the despair cycle continues. Humans contract the disease on consuming infected snails accidentally or deliberately or even by eating infected frogs that may contract the parasite.