New rat lungworm research in reader-friendly format

October 5, 2021

Susan Jarvi, Ph.D.

In an effort to increase public awareness of rat lungworm and how to minimize risks of contracting it, a new publication edited by Dr. Susan Jarvi, DKICP professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, summarizes the latest scientific research and is being offered free to educators, healthcare professionals and the general public.

The 40-page publication, Informational Briefs from the 6th International Workshop on Rat Lungworm Parasites, contains cutting-edge research on a variety of topics related to this parasite and the disease it causes, and is summarized by scientists from eight countries who presented their findings at a workshop in January of 2020, in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

“This modified version of the scientific papers published in the latest volume of the journal Parasitology provides this same information in a condensed, more reader-friendly format,” she explains. “It was done with the full support of journal editors at Cambridge University Press.”

Jarvi, who also serves as head of the Hawaiʻi Island Rat Lungworm Working Group, says the international workshops are held every two to three years and are crucial for advancing research and knowledge not only about diagnosis and treatment of the disease, but on research relating to infection and transmission levels in humans, as well as the expanding range of infection in non-human species.

Rat lungworm, a disease that has sickened nearly 100 people on Hawaiʻi Island over the past decade, is caused by a parasitic nematode found in the pulmonary arteries of rats. It’s commonly transmitted to humans when parasite eggs in rat feces are eaten by snails or slugs, which then develop to the L3 stage and are accidentally ingested by humans on unwashed produce or in water. Research on ways to reduce human risk of infection is also critical, adds Jarvi, including mechanisms and tools to better educate the public. “That’s why we felt it was important to share the results of these scientific studies with the general population, in a less technical, more accessible format.”

The publication can be accessed online.

In a newly created video to accompany the publication, Jarvi describes rat lungworm and the associated disease, as well as the significance of this publication for the people of Hawaiʻi.

See more news from 2021.