Angiostrongyliasis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis found throughout Asia and the South Pacific. It is rarely diagnosed in the U.S.
You can get angiostrongyliasis by eating food contaminated by the larval stage of A. cantonensis worms. These worms can be found in raw or under cooked snails, slugs, prawns, fishes, and land crabs. Lettuce or other leafy vegetables exposed to infected slugs or snails can also become contaminated by the worm. Angiostrongyliasis is not spread person-to-person.
Angiostrongyliasis is a threat to millions of people all over the world. Most cases of eosinophilic meningistis have been reported from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin, although the infection is spreading to many other areas of the world, including Africa and the Caribbean. Abdominal angiostrongyliasis has been reported from Costa Rica, and occurs most commonly in young children.
Problems associated with the disease are sometimes treated surgically. The effectiveness of oral medications has not been established.
Yes, there is no evidence that a person develops immunity to a recurrent infection with this worm.
Don't eat raw foods contaminated with snails or slugs. Boil suspect snails, prawns, fishes, and crabs for 3-5 minutes, this will kill the larval stage of the worm.
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Created by Ann Ha Human Biology 103 Parasites and Pestilence Spring 2002 Instructor: D. Scott Smith, MD