Rat Lungworm

How To Get Brain Worms From Your Smoothie

Rat Lungworm.png

Brain Worms.  Sounds gross, right?  It is.  I first heard about Rat Lungworm disease a few years ago when a friend on the Big Island mentioned the increase being seen locally. WHAT?  A parasite which squirms around in my brain, leaves pinholes and pain, then dies?  And I get it from eating slugs or their slime?  Double gross.  But wait, there’s more!  The slugs get the parasite from eating rat poop?  Seriously?  Ugh.

The dark side of paradise.

Why wait two years to post something about this nasty worm?  It wasn’t prevalent on my island.  Yet.

 Welcome to Maui little brain worm!

In an effort to see less people contracting this nasty disease, I give you:


    1.  Never wash your produce.

Proper washing of your produce will remove slugs, slime, and the parasite.  So far, vinegar, bleach, and grapefruit seed extract have not shown to be effective in killing the parasite.  The best way to remove even the smallest slugs is to manually rub each lettuce leaf under running water and inspect for slugs.  If you find a slug, don’t handle it with your bare hands.  Kill it with fire.  Lots of fire.


    2.  Eat everything raw.

Cooking kills the parasite.  If it can be cooked, do it!  Because – BRAIN WORMS.

    3.  Eat only ‘organic’ produce.

I’m sure I’ll be hearing from a few people on this one, but a state official gave this warning.  Joe Elm, Department of Health Epidemiologist says,

“Your question of why we’re seeing it now?  A lot of people are going for organic produce. And fruits and vegetables. I think the lack of pesticides on these crops are just an invitation for insects. Like… here’s lunch! When you buy these products, we have to be careful.”

It only stands to reason that if you don’t adequately control pest populations of both slugs and rats, you can’t control the spread of Rat Lungworm.  I’ve avoided organic produce for years, but now, it will become religious in my home.  Don’t even think of bringing it through my door.

   4.  Protest your local sugar plantation until they close down.

This one might be outside the scope, but hear me out.  This past December, sugar left Maui for good.  Rats are a pest for sugar.  They live in the fields and nibble on the cane.  Most sugar plantations had plans in place to get rid of the rats, bait being the most popular.  On top of this, when sugar is harvested, only about 10% of the rat population survives.  One study says the rats didn’t die during burning, but were typically crushed by machinery or suffocated when their burrows collapsed.  With no sugar fields left, with no bait programs in place, with no harvest, those rats reproduce, spread out, poop, the slugs eat said poop, and we eat the slugs.

Edit: Please understand the distance involved between empty sugar fields and Hana (the part of Maui experiencing the outbreak).  If those rats could travel 50 miles, I’d be impressed.  Point being – every loss of an agricultural sector has an impact.  Stop protesting agriculture!

   5.  Make a haven on your property for rats and slugs.

If you really want to increase your chances of catching Rat Lungworm, make sure you never work to eliminate rats or slugs.  There are some great products on the market for both endeavors.  If you can’t find the time for application of pesticides, call in a professional.  It’s not worth permanent holes in your brain.

Stay safe Maui – avoid Rat Lungworm.

Wash your produce, cook your food, eliminate rats and slugs, and support the farmers who eliminate rats and slugs.

10 thoughts on “How To Get Brain Worms From Your Smoothie

  1. Love your article! How many people really think thru the consequences of organic produce or getting rid of a crop? Cause and effect–and it is not always positive!

  2. This might be slightly inappropriate given the seriousness of this post but when I read your intro all I could think about was The Wrath of Khan. Seriously though … some good pointers. And an interesting side to the organic argument as well. I hadn’t thought of it like that!

    1. Thanks for reading Mike! I actually have a smattering of egg shells still decomposing in my raised beds, but shortly after applying them, The Garden Professor posted about egg shells not working on slugs. Here’s an article about a little experiment on the topic. http://www.allaboutslugs.com/eggshell-myth-busted/ I’ll be honest, I wanted those egg shells to work. Now I do a little dance while I apply commercial slug bait.

  3. I got rat lungworm disease March 2017 and have suffered with pain in my skin ever since. Nothing will stop it except prednisone. And I’ve tried it all. I visit Maui every February for 25 years. And only heard about it a few days before we left. If I stay on the prednisone I can travel back in February 2018. And I’m going to. I need support. No one in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada has even heard of the disease. Who should I see or talk to when I get back to Maui. I’m a 67 year old female. And this has been the worse year of my life.

    1. This is terrible Roberta. I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles. Have you contacted the Hawaii Department of Health or the CDC? I’m sure one of those agencies can give you excellent guidance on where to get help. Hoping for complete healing for you as you seek answers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s