Definition

What is angiostrongyliasis?

Angiostrongyliasis is a type of infection caused by a type of roundworm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. They are the most common in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin.

This parasite can infect rats, thus the nickname “rat lungworm”. Snails are also a common host for angiostrongylus cantonensis. Human can get infected when they consume the meat of these animals, or if they drink contaminated water and vegetables.

Angistrongyliasis is a serious condition that can lead to death or permanent brain and nerve damage.

How common is angiostrongyliasis?

Angiostrongyliasis is becoming increasingly important as it spreads to more and more locations via travels and animals. Although mostly found in Asia and the Pacific where asymptomatic infection can be as high as 88%, human cases have been reported in the Caribbean, where as much as 25% of the population may be infected.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of angiostrongyliasis?

If an individual experience this condition, they may have severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weakness, which gradually lessens and progresses to fever, and then to central nervous system (CNS) symptoms and severe headache and stiffness of the neck.

Severe CNS infection: Patients may present with neuropathic pain early in the infection. Eventually severe infection will turn out ascending weakness, weakness of all four limbs, slow reflex, difficulty breathing, muscle atrophy, and will lead to death if not treated.

Eye invasion: Common signs and symptoms of eye invasion include visual impairment, pain, keratitis, and retinal edema. Worms are usually detected in the eyes and can sometimes be removed surgically.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes angiostrongyliasis?

Humans and rats acquire the infection when they ingest contaminated snails or paratenic (transport) hosts including prawns, crabs, and frogs, or raw vegetables containing material from these intermediate and paratenic hosts. After passing through the digestive tract, the worms enter circulation.

In humans, the larvae will develop into the adult form in the brain, but they quickly die, causing an inflammatory reaction that leads to symptoms of infection.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for angiostrongyliasis?

Risk factors for angiostrongyliasis include:

  • The ingestion of raw or undercooked infected snails or slugs
  • Pieces of snails and slugs accidentally chopped up in vegetables, vegetable juices, or salads; or foods contaminated by the slime of infected snails or slugs
  • contamination of the hands during the preparation of uncooked infected snails or slug

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is angiostrongyliasis diagnosed?

Diagnosis of this condition is complicated due to the difficulty of identifying the parasite. Some other common test may help to detect Angiostrongylus cantonensis such as lumbar puncture, or brain imaging, etc.

How is angiostrongyliasis treated?       

There is no specific treatment for Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection. There is some evidence that certain supportive treatments may reduce the severity of headache and the duration of symptoms. Persons with symptoms should consult their health care provider for more information.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage angiostrongyliasis?

Prevention of Angiostrongylus cantonensis infections involves educating people residing in or traveling to infected areas or places where eating raw or undercooked snails and slugs, freshwater shrimp, land crabs, frogs is common.

If you have a garden, monitor your garden for snails, lizards, and vegetables. Removing snails, slugs, and rats found near houses and gardens should also help reduce risk.

Thoroughly wash your hands and utensils before and after preparing raw snails or slugs is also recommended. Vegetables should be thoroughly washed if eaten raw.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: April 16, 2017 | Last Modified: April 16, 2017

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