HONOLULU, Hawaii – An informational briefing was held at the State Capitol on Wednesday, providing state legislators with an update on Rat Lungworm Disease from the Department of Health and a state-wide RLD Joint Task Force.
Sue Jarvi, Ph.D., with the UH-Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, answered questions posed by concerned elected officials.
The disease, caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis – a parasitic nematode found in slugs and snails – can cause crippling chronic disabilities and even claim lives. There have been 70 reported cases of the disease in Hawaii from 2001 to 2014. Hawaii Island – especially the district of Puna – is considered ground zero for the sickness.
A senate bill that will help the fight against rat lungworm is still alive at the legislature. SB 272 “appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for programs, studies, and activities related to rat lungworm disease.”
The bill would also require the University to submit a report to the legislature “with specific strategies and objectives that the University, along with the Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and Joint Rat Lungworm Task Force, plan to implement to further efforts to prevent and eradicate rat lungworm disease.”
The next hearing on SB 272 is on February 28 at the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health.