Officials confirm fifth case of rat lungworm

HONOLULU (AP) — The state has confirmed that a Big Island toddler is the fifth victim this year of rat lungworm, a disease that is expected to continue to spread due to climate change.

It’s the third confirmed case of rat lungworm disease on the Big Island.

The state Department of Health says the toddler started showing symptoms in late July and was taken to an emergency room last week. The child was transferred to Oahu for further treatment.

The child was discharged after several days in the hospital.

The state Department Health suspects the child may have contracted the disease by accidentally ingesting a slug or snail carrying a rat lungworm parasite, which can move throughout the body and cause significant damage to the nerves, brain and spinal cord.