I can’t believe how the wet weather has brought out all the slugs and snails. I feel like I’ve been waging war on these pest the whole winter. With summer fast approaching, kids are beginning to want to go outside to play again. The warmer weather and volume of snails around can pose a risk to your families health. The New South Wales Health Department release a fact sheet on Rat Lung Worm about this health risk.
Rat Lung Worm
The parasite Rat Lung Worm is a very rare cause of meningitis in Australia. This disease is associated with eating infected snails and slugs. Most people make a full recovery. Rats are also the cause of this disease.
In most cases people may have no symptoms of Rat Lung Worm. In rare circumstances it may cause meningitis – a brain infection. These symptoms include headaches, a stiff neck, tingling or painful skin, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms occur 1 to 3 weeks after ingestion. Anyone showing these symptoms should see their doctor right away.
The parasite is more commonly found in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia. Infants and children may be at risk of Rat Lung Worm should they eat garden snails that they find. Adults can put themselves at risk eating raw produce with the slime of the snail or slug on it.
Most people with symptoms recover fully without treatment over days, weeks or months. However, the infection can sometimes cause severe meningitis that requires specialist treatment. The infection is occasionally fatal.
Ensure you’re up to date with your first aid. Keep the Poison Help Line number handy too – 13 11 26.
The link below references the fact sheet published be the NSW Health Department.