(BIVN) – On Monday, the Hawaii Department of Health launched the first statewide media campaign on rat lungworm disease prevention.
A series of public service announcements are now airing on TV and radio.
And on the same day, a news release from the University of Hawai`i at Hilo said current research shows the risk of rat lungworm disease is greater than expected, and that state legislators vow to aid in the fight.
The findings of a study headed by the Rat Lungworm Working Group at the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy show almost 94 percent of the rats in the Hilo area are infected with rat lungworm.
The roles of the University of Hawaii and the Department of Health in the greater fight against rat lungworm disease has been the subject of political dispute. The whole thing came to a head this year at the Hawaii state legislature, and researchers on Hawaii Island did not take the Oahu power-play lightly.
With the College of Pharmacy based in Hilo, and the greatest number of rat lungworm infections on the Big Island, the Hawaii County Council is stepping up efforts to find funding for the needed research on their own.
This week a number of councilmembers plan to grant contingency relief funds to the nonprofit Malama O Puna, in order to complete some of the important pieces of the research puzzle. Puna councilmember Jen Ruggles explained in an interview.