Parasite Found In Leon, 4 Other Florida Counties

Jul 5, 2017

Leon has been identified as one of the five Florida counties found to have an invasive parasitic roundworm.

Five counties in Florida were found to have an invasive parasite by a University of Florida study. This is an image of the parasite under a microscope.
Credit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Researchers at University of Florida said Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or rat lungworm, is found in rats and snails. The parasite infects the human brain, causing meningitis, but it cannot be spread from person-to-person.

The other four counties where rats with the lungworm were found are Alachua, Hillsborough, Orange and Saint Johns.

The infection was found in Hawaii, and has spread to the southern United States. Many scientists believe the geographic spread is due to climate change.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not ingesting raw or undercooked snails, slugs, freshwater shrimp, land crabs and frogs, and to wash hands thoroughly if in contact with slugs and snails. The agency also recommends washing fresh produce thoroughly.

Removing snails, slugs, and rats found near houses and gardens also help reduce the risk.