State / In Brief

The Associated Press

Child contracts rat lungworm on Oahu

HONOLULU — A toddler on Oahu has contracted rat lungworm disease, the island’s first case of the year, state health officials said.

The state Department of Health confirmed Friday that the parasite was found in the child’s spinal fluid following lab tests.

The child became sick earlier this month and was hospitalized, prompting health authorities to investigate, officials said. This case marks the state’s fourth confirmed diagnosis this year.

The adult form of the parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, is only found in rodents. The larvae can spread from infected rodents through their feces, according to the health department.

People can become infected by ingesting the larvae, typically through eating raw or undercooked items.

The disease can spread to young children by what they put into their mouths.

“As parents and caregivers, we can help ensure their safety by being mindful of where our children play and what they may be putting in their mouths,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, health department director. “The risk of rat lungworm disease exists statewide and we can all take steps to help prevent it by working together to reduce the risks in our own communities.”

The disease can cause debilitating conditions and result in a rare type of meningitis. The disease’s symptoms include severe headaches, neck stiffness, low-grade fever, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after exposure, according to the department.

To prevent rat lungworm disease, the department recommends that residents wash all produce and store the items in sealed containers. Residents should also control snail, slug and rat populations around homes, gardens and farms.

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Gun registrations drop by 24 percent

HONOLULU — The number of firearms registered in Hawaii decreased by nearly 24 percent last year, according to figures from the state attorney general’s office.

The figures show that registrations dropped to 40,635 in 2017 from 53,400 in 2016, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

In 2017, 16,443 personal or private firearm applications were processed, decreasing by 23.2 percent from the 21,408 applications processed the year before.

Of the registration applications, 96 percent were approved last year, according to the state data. The data shows that 1.7 percent were denied due to the applicants being disqualified, and the remaining 2.2 percent were rejected for applicants’ failure to return permits.

Despite the sharp decrease last year, the number of registrations is still much higher than the numbers recorded nearly two decades ago, said Paul Perrone, a research chief for the attorney general’s office. The state registered 13,617 firearms in 2000. Firearm registrations peaked at 60,757 in 2013 with a notable rise beginning in 2008.

“There’s a direct relationship between a concern of scarcity and people buying more than they would have if scarcity was not an issue,” Hawaii Rifle Association President Harvey Gerwig said.

During President Barack Obama’s second term in office, firearm sales and registration boomed. Gerwig said people were concerned about the possibility of additional restrictions being placed on firearms.

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Hospital’s design focus is on safety

HONOLULU — Officials behind plans for a new Hawaii State Hospital said the future facility will be more secure, safer for staff and better suited for patients with mental health issues.

Artist renderings for the new $140 million Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe were unveiled at a news conference last week, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The four-story hospital will span over 170,000 square feet and hold 144 beds.

The hospital is expected to open in 2021.

The new building will replace the Goddard building that was demolished in 2016 and bring Hawaii State Hospital’s total capacity up to 252.

The facility’s design will make it possible for one person to monitor an entire floor leaving hospital staff free to focus on their jobs, architects and designers said.

All doors can be managed by a single person working in a “control booth,” they said.