The New Guinea flatworm, a creature on the world’s most invasive species list, is causing concern among some central Florida residents amidst new reports of sightings of the species that could carry the dangerous rat lungworm parasite.
WESH 2 News reported that it had received photos of a suspected New Guinea flatworm found in Grant, Brevard County, inside a residential home. The news service also noted a total of 17 reports of flatworms in Indian River County, located several miles from Grant.
Flatworms are more than just a danger to habitat.
New Guinea flatworms can carry a parasite called rat lungworm.
“Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a parasitic worm of rats. It is also called the rat lungworm. The adult form of the parasite is found only in rodents. Infected rats pass larvae of the parasite in their feces. Snails and slugs get infected by ingesting the larvae. These larvae mature in snails and slugs but do not become adult worms. The life cycle is completed when rats eat infected snails or slugs and the larvae further mature to become adult worms,” according to the CDC.
“People can get infected by eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs that are infected with this parasite. In some cultures, snails are commonly eaten,” the CDC stated.
The worms can also crawl on fruits and vegetables and contaminate them.
Some people do not have any symptoms. However, those that do can experience a headache, stiff neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Professor of biology Timothy Collins, who studies flatworms in Florida, told Snopes.com that there have not been any reported cases in the state of flatworms carrying the rat lungworm parasite.
Read the Epoch Times article for the full story.