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Rat Lungworm Disease

‘RAT LUNGWORM DISEASE’

CASES

In 2011 a 10 month old Sydney girl became lethargic and could not sleep.  A week later she was in intensive care and then passed away at Easter.  The doctors were unaware of the cause, until autopsy details were released this month showing she had contracted rat lungworm from an infected slug, most probably from crawling across its trail.

A 21 year old man ate a slug as a dare in 2010, becoming critically ill as a result. NSW Health put out the media release last year downloadable here.  There have also been at least two other cases of rat lungworm disease in children in the past year.

THE PARASITE 

Rat lungworm disease is a type of meningitis.  It is caused by a parasitic nematode that lives in the arteries of rats.   The nematode larvae are excreted in rodent droppings which are then often eaten by slugs and snails.  These are the primary temporary hosts, where the larvae develop until they are infective.  Humans may become accidental hosts by eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs or from contaminated water or vegetables.  The larvae travel with the blood of the human host to the Central Nervous System. This may cause swelling of the brain, which can lead to death or permanent brain or nerve injury.  The body’s immune system is normally able to reject the nematode without affecting the body.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

Rodent droppings and urine carry diseases. A rodent treatment can be added to any pest treatment for $66. A small price to pay for peace of mind. Competitive Pest Control will also return to your home at no charge to remove a decomposing rodent. For those wanting a barrier to prevent rodents gaining access into the home, most houses have places where rodent bait can be safely located outside the main building, especially in the shed which is a common shelter for rodents.

Please know that the servicing of rodent bait stations should be attended by a professional pest control technician. Also, if you notice snails or slug trails when you are moving around your home, please advise the Competitive technician when he performs your next treatment.