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Hawaiian health officials issue warning over an outbreak of brain-invading parasites
by Peter Dockrill
ScienceAlert Translate This Article
10 April 2017
On 10 April 2017 ScienceAlert reported:
A sharp rise in infections stemming from a parasitic worm that invades the human brain has health officials in the Hawaiian island of Maui worried. Six cases of rat lungworm disease have so far been confirmed in Maui in the last three months, with more episodes currently being investigated. Given the island had only experienced two documented cases of rat lungworm in the decade before this outbreak, the sudden increase is causing concern. According to officials, the parasite has been identified in slugs and snails on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island... But climate change could also be playing a role in helping the parasite survive in new ecosystems.
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As for what's caused such a spike in Maui recently, nobody's entirely sure, but there are concerns the parasite is being spread by a rise in numbers of an invasive semi-slug in the region, with as much as 80 percent of the species carrying the roundworm.
Behind that, it's possible that increasing globalisation and shipping is to blame for the distribution of the parasite . . .
'Some suggest that it's due to snails or slugs in the ship ballasts - ships coming from Asia and going through the Panama Canal.'
But climate change could also be playing a role in helping the parasite survive in new ecosystems.
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