What is Angiostrongyliasis?
Angiostrongyliasis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis found throughout Asia and the South Pacific.
How do you get it?
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, and land crabs. People can also get infected by accident, by eating raw produce that contains a small snail or slug or part of one. It is not known whether the slime left by infected snails and slugs can cause infection. Angiostrongyliasis is not spread person-to-person.
While anyone can get this illness, it is most common in people who live in or travel to developing countries that have poor sanitary conditions.
What are the symptoms?
have mild symptoms for a short time. The rare, but serious form of the infection is a type of meningitis. The symptoms of angiostrongyliasis usually include severe headache and stiffness of the neck and back, tingling or painful feelings in the skin, nausea and vomiting. Low-grade fever and a temporary paralysis of the face may also be present. Light sensitivity may also occur. The symptoms can last from a few days to several months.
When do symptoms start?
The symptoms usually start 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to the parasite.
What is the treatment for angiostrongyliasis
There is no specific treatment for this disease. The parasite dies over time, so the infection is self-limiting. Supportive treatment and pain medications can be given to relieve symptoms. Patients are sometimes treated with steroids..
If you get it once, can you get it again?
Probably so. There is no evidence that a person develops immunity to a repeated infection with this parasitic worm.
Should an infected person stay away from work or school?
No. Angiostrongyliasis is not spread person-to-person.
How can you keep from getting it?
- Do not eat raw foods contaminated with snails or slugs. If you must handle these mollusks, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Washing produce may not remove all infectious larvae, so avoid eating anything that you know has been contaminated by snails or slugs.
- Boil suspect snails, prawns, fishes, and crabs for at least 3 to 5 minutes, or freeze at 5°F (15°C) for at least 24 hours; this will kill the larval stage of the worm.