Rat lungworm, or Angiostrongyliasis, is a parasitic worm found in the pulmonary arteries of rats. When the rat passes its faeces, the waste is sometimes eaten by small snails and other mollusks. The parasite is then passed on to the snail. Humans can contract the parasite from ingesting these snails. We contract the parasite when we eat small snails living on vegetables and fruits or when we eat snails themselves. There is no method to tell if a snail has rat lungworm before ingesting it. However, using sensible precautionary measures reduces the risk.
Wash fruit and vegetables extremely well and thoroughly wipe dry. Thoroughly clean any dishes and utensils used in the preparation of raw vegetables. Removing rats and snails found near gardens also reduces risk.
Do not handle snails with bare hands and wash them well before cooking. Cook snails thoroughly by boiling them for at least five minutes. Thoroughly wash utensils and dishes used in the preparation of raw snails. Remove rats from areas where snails are harvested.
Check for symptoms of lungworm cantonensis correctly. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, severe headaches and neck stiffness. The symptoms mimic bacterial meningitis.
Check for symptoms of lungworm costaricensis correctly. Symptoms include severe abdominal pains, fever, nausea and vomiting. It mimics appendicitis.
Rat lungworm is most common in tropical areas that support large snail populations. The parasite has also been found in some freshwater shrimp, land crabs and frogs.