New CDC Warning Adds Urgency To Proper Food Preparation Practices


According to a nutritional report by The Daily Meal on MSN, the number of people sick from infected rat lungworms are on the rise which has prompted the Center For Disease Control to issue a warning in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reporton proper cleaning of raw vegetable and preparation practices to avoid contact with parasites that cause serious illness. 

What Is A Rat Lungworm?

If you have never heard of a rat lungworm, it is a roundworm parasite that is only found in rodents. The danger of contamination to your raw vegetables is present when larvae are passed in their feces. Animals like slugs, land crabs, shrimp, and frogs can become infected if they consume the larvae. Humans will also become infected after consuming hosts unintentionally through contact with raw vegetables or infected hosts like shrimp that have been undercooked. 

While the CDC is unsure of how the twelve known cases came into contact with the parasite, there is evidence to support that at least six cases reported eating raw vegetables before symptoms occurred that snails and slugs tend to attach. The other cases showed a high probability of undercooked foods. Of the remaining patients, two ate raw snails, two ate prawns and one ate crab. The CDC also found one teenager who ate a slug after a dare is now paralyzed. 

Is Rat Lungworm Contamination Common?

The CDC is warning consumers and medical professionals not because of an outbreak but because of the severity of the disease once a person consumes a rat lungworm or something that is contaminated with larvae. With only twelve cases over a six-year period, it is unlikely that people will contact meningitis or die from this parasite. Of the six who ate raw vegetables, three were from private gardens which further narrows the scope of medical concern for consumers. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Rat Lungworm Larvae Infections

While the CDC feels that there have been more than 12 cases that have gone unreported, they also caution that the symptoms of rat lungworm are mild in most cases. In more severe cases, symptoms begin between one and three weeks after contact and include headaches, tingling extremities and skin, stiffness in the neck area, nausea, low-grade fevers, and vomiting.  Some patients also experienced face paralysis. Symptoms generally last between two and eight weeks. 

For these twelve people who had contact with rat lungworms, their cases were much more severe as they contracted angiostrongyliasis which affects the brain. It also leads to eosinophilic meningitis because the rat lungworm travels to the brain and causes inflammationto occur. Patients have experienced comas, brain function loss, and death which all twelve cases ended in.

1.    Wash your raw vegetables thoroughly before consuming them.

2.    Be proactive and look for slugs on your fruits and vegetables. 

3.    Cook any food such as shellfish completely before eating it. 

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Steve Horrell