What is Angiostrongylus cantonensis?

Sept. 28, 2023

A parasitic worm scientifically known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, typically found in rats, has been spreading in southeastern America recently.

About Angiostrongylus cantonensis:

  • Angiostrongylus cantonensis, commonly known as the rat lungworm, is a parasitic nematode (roundworm) that infects rodents, particularly rats.
  • It is typically found in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii.
  • While rats serve as the primary hosts for this parasite, humans and other animals, including snails and slugs, can become infected as incidental hosts.
  • Transmission: It is spread through rat faeces and can infect humans and other animals through produce or other food items.
  • Impact on Humans:
    • Once inside a human, the worm could cause a rare brain infection known as eosinophilic meningitis.
    • Symptoms can include headaches, still neck, tingling, fevers, vomiting, or painful feelings in the skin.
    • Most infections resolve spontaneously over time without specific treatment because the parasite cannot survive for long in the human body.
    • The worm can, in severe cases, cause coma or even death in humans, and can also infect pets.
  • Treatment:
    • There is currently no specific treatment for the parasite.
    • The most common types of treatment are for the symptoms of the infection, such as pain medication for headache or medications to reduce the body’s reaction to the parasite.