What is Rat Lungworm (Angiostrongylus) Disease? - Transcript

What is Angiostrongliasis or rat lungworm disease?

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Angio-stronj-ilus cantonensis

It’s called rat-lungworm disease because the worm lives in the lungs of rats.

An infected rat coughs up worms from the lungs into the throat where they are then swallowed by the rat.

The worms are now in the rat’s digestive system and eventually end up in the rat’s poop

Then 1. A slug or snail eats the rat’s poop and becomes infected,

OR ,  2.  The worms in the rat’s poop penetrate a slug or snail’s body.

When a rat eats an infected slug or snail, the cycle begins again.

Most of the known cases of rat lungworm disease have been in parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands, but some have been in parts of the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.

So then how do people get it?

People get rat lungworm disease when they eat raw or undercooked slugs or snails that have worms in them.

Slugs and snails may be eaten accidentally if they are on fruits or vegetables that have not been thoroughly washed.

Or, freshwater crabs, shrimp, prawns, or frogs may eat slugs or snails, become infected with worms, and then infect people if they are eaten undercooked or raw.

Beverages may be contaminated with worms if they aren’t stored in sealed containers to keep slugs or snails out.

Rat lungworm disease is preventable.

Protect yourself and others from rat lungworm disease:

Wash all your fruits and vegetables. Rinse them under running water before eating or cooking. Check carefully for slugs and snails.

Cook food thoroughly. Cook prawns, frogs, snails, and crabs by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes or heating to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds.

Cover tanks and containers. Cover and protect your catchment tank or other water source. Always cover your beverage to prevent slugs and snails from crawling in.

Control slugs and snails. Use gloves to remove slugs and snails from around your home.

Control rats. Use bait and traps to catch rats. Remove dead rats. Keep your property clean to keep rats away.

To learn more about rat lungworm disease, visit cdc.dot.gov

Page last reviewed: December 18, 2017