US News Brain-Infecting 'Rat Lungworm' Spreads in Florida

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    A parasitic worm that can infect people's brains has been found throughout Florida, according to a new study.

    The researchers found the parasite, called rat lungworm, living in rats and snails in five Florida counties in both the central and northern parts of the state. Rat lungworm was previously found in southern Florida, and the new study is one of the first to show the extent of the parasite's spread across the state.

    The researchers warned that the parasite, which is typically found in the tropics and only recently appeared in the continental United States, will likely continue to expand its range in this country. They said that the parasite's apparent ability to thrive in areas outside its historical range is "alarming," and as average temperatures rise with climate change, the parasite will likely spread into more temperate areas.

    The parasite carries out its life cycle in rats, snails and slugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People can become infected if they eat raw or undercooked snails or slugs, or if they eat contaminated produce.

    In people, rat lungworm, or Angiostrongylus cantonensis, can infect the brain and cause meningitis, according to the CDC. Infected people may experience headaches, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, and abnormal sensations in their arms and legs. Most people fully recover without treatment, but in rare cases, the infection can cause neurological problems or death, the CDC said.

    Although human cases of rat lungworm have yet to be reported in Florida, the researchers called for increased awareness of this parasite to help prevent infection and properly identify infected patients.

    Read more here. (Live Science)

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