You do not often hear about slugs in the news, and you certainly don’t hear people casually discussing slugs during Smalltalk. Slugs are admittedly, boring creatures. However, these days American’s may have a reason for mentioning these strange looking organisms. Slugs are known carriers of a devastating disease that is increasing in prevalence where this slug is native.

Rat-lungworm disease is rare, but the symptoms it causes to sufferers can make their lives unbearable. Hawaii is easily the most effected state, and so far health department officials with the state of Hawaii have seen two new cases in just the past week. This brings the grand total of victims of rat-lungworm up to eleven this year in Hawaii. Health department officials also believe that they have four more cases on their hands. These numbers are unsettlingly high as the average number victims afflicted with rat-lungworm are only nine in a single year for Hawaii. That means that Hawaii has eleven confirmed cases and four likely cases, which nearly doubles the state average, and the year is not even halfway over. Only time will tell if rat-lungworm disease reaches epidemic proportions.

The victims living in Hawaii who have contracted rat-lungworm disease probably contracted the disease by drinking fluids that had been contaminated with slugs at one point. The four possible cases of rat-lungworm that have also been reported, but not fully investigated, were also quite likely to have been ingested with fluids.

Rat-lungworm disease owes its origins to slugs, and, less often, snails. Slugs or snails consume a parasite in rat feces, and then slugs or snails will secrete the parasites as they move about near bodies of water. This is all it takes for a waterbody to become contaminated with the disease-causing parasite. As a result of the upswing in rat-lungworm victims, national health officials are recommending that all Americans, but especially for those living within the state of Hawaii, to be extra cautious about the fluids that they drink. Washing your produce in filtered or distilled water is also recommended for the time being.

Do you think that some organisms, like slugs and snails, evolved the ability to carry deadly parasites as a survival method?

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