Brain-Invading Parasite: What It Is And How It Spreads

Posted: Apr 10 2017, 7:28am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Brain-Invading Parasite: What it Is and How it Spreads
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Globalization has an effect on infectious diseases particularly in the developing countries. Their epidemiology is such that certain segments of the population are more vulnerable to them than the rest. As environmental, biological and social conditions change at a rapid pace, there are some who gain and some who lose at the hands of the process known as globalization.

Take the case of an epidemic in Hawaii where the health authorities have warned the members of the public not to touch snails or slugs with their bare hands. That is because a large proportion of the people come into contact with a rare parasitic infection. This infection has been termed rat lungworm.

Other states where this disease has spread include: California, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, according to WHO. The first time this disease occurred was in Taiwan in 1944. The disease is a merciless one. The parasitic nematode that begins its life cycle inside rats later on spreads via their faeces to snails and slugs.

Over 30 countries have shown signs of this disease being present in them. Furthermore, the disease has no cure. Low income areas of the global village are ideal transmitters of similar infectious diseases.

Since the rats travel via cages aboard ships, the process of globalization brings the infectious agents they carry into contact with people in more well-off places. When you look at history, most of the infectious diseases such as the bubonic plague also spread via contact between different people and agents of infection which in the bubonic plague’s case were also rats.

The only difference is that with the rise of globalization, the distance between the farthest corners of the earth have shrunk, according to Gizmodo. Thus infectious agents get from one place to another very fast and the infections spread like wildfire.

Global shipping, aviation and the transportation system are all responsible for the spread of infectious diseases. Rat lungworm may start out in rats but it ends up in slugs and snails. It is basically a worm infection. A slug that leaves behind a slimy trail may be dangerous too.

A person who comes into contact with the slimy trail may contract the disease. If the worms die, the disease may get cured on its own. Otherwise there is no cure and the patient may even die. The parasite ultimately reaches the brain where it wreaks havoc on the neurons. Climate change and polluted air, land and sea are furthermore contributing to this disease, according to The Atlantic.

Other diseases such as the Zika Virus and the Ebola Virus are also perfect examples of how an outbreak can spread devastation in an entire region such as Africa and South America respectively. At present there are exactly six cases of rat lungworm disease on the island of Hawaii. They are all present in Maui alone, according to MauiNews.

There have been three other cases which are suspected to have taken place as well and are under observation. In the past only two such cases had occurred on the island. The semi-slug which is present on the island is said to spread the disease.

Rats are hosts to the nematodes. These get passed on through their fecal matter which the snails and slugs feed on. These snails and slugs furthermore infect fruits and vegetables from which human beings pick up the disease. The human beings often eat the fruits and vegetables in the raw state.

The infection basically causes a rare type of meningitis. This often leads to migraines, neck rictus, twitching and pain in the skin and extremities, light fever, nausea and emetic conditions. Besides these nasty symptoms, the face may undergo paralysis and the person may become highly sensitive to light.

As far as prevention of the disease is concerned, there were several options available. One of the biggest ways to protect oneself from this disease is to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables which form a sizable portion of the diet of Hawaiians, according to ScienceAlert.

Also more stringent rules and regulations regarding the growth, handling and packaging of fruits and vegetables had to be applied across the board. It all ultimately boiled down to a matter of hygiene.

The cleaner the conditions, the more the chances of avoiding this disease which was sheer misery personified. Vigilance and care were better than having a ton of regrets later on.

It is feared that the disease may spread to other species such as shrimps, crabs and frogs. The strange thing is for many people there are no symptoms to the disease. Then there are those who experience symptoms and these disappear intermittently.

This raises their hopes which are suddenly dashed to the ground time after time. The malady is certainly strange and surreal in its nature. Yet just to think that there are parasites in the lining of your brain is a tall order to even conceive of. It sends shivers up the spines of the sufferers.

Ultimately, the real culprits behind the disease are globalization and climate change. The sort of chaos caused on a planetary level due to mankind’s interventionist behavior has been responsible to a large extent for this epidemic which it is feared may become a pandemic if it is not contained.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.

 

 

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