Invasive parasite found in rodents in Leon County

Rat Lungworm Disease, rare brain parasite cases spread in Hawaii, Photo: CDC

By: Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 29, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- An invasive parasitic roundworm, known as rat lungworm, has been found in Leon and four other Florida counties according to a new study by the University of Florida.

The parasite is known to cause meningitis in both humans and animals.

In the study conducted by UF researchers, 171 rats and snails were collected from 18 Florida counties.

Following the study, nearly 23 percent of black rats tested positive for Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm. Two percent of land snails also tested positive.

The other four counties where rats with the lungworm were found are Alachua, Hillsborough, Orange and Saint Johns,

The infection was established in Hawaii and is occasionally found throughout the southern U.S.

According to the CDC, prevention of rat lungworm includes not ingesting raw or undercooked snails and slugs, freshwater shrimp, land crabs, frogs and monitor lizards or potentially contaminated vegetables or vegetable juice.

The CDC also recommends removing snails, slugs and rats found near houses and gardens, and thoroughly washing hands and utensils after preparing raw slugs.

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