Last Updated: 04/24/18
August 2, 2017
HONOLULU – Gov. David Y. Ige, together with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) announced today the state’s plans to place a stronger emphasis on the prevention of rat lungworm disease. This year, the state confirmed a total of 15 cases of the serious parasitic infection, which is the highest number of cases reported in the state over the last decade.
“We are bringing together local experts from relevant fields to increase public awareness, improve our response activities, and explore ways to control and treat the disease,” said Gov. Ige. “They will work together with the Joint Task Force we established last year to step up prevention efforts beyond Hawai‘i Island, where the first cases were reported.”
Dr. Kenton Kramer, Associate Professor of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology with the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM), who is serving as Joint Task Force chair said, “The Joint Task Force to combat rat lungworm disease will reconvene in August. Experts from the medical, scientific, environmental, and public health communities will collaborate to develop guidelines for schools, farms, food establishments, physicians and other groups on best practices to prevent, control, and treat rat lungworm disease.”
The Joint Task Force, established in May 2016, consists of members from UH-JABSOM, Pacific Biosciences Research Center; The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo; HDOA’s Plant Industry and Quality Assurance Divisions; USDA Agriculture Research Service; Kaiser Permanente Hawaii; Hilo Medical Center; Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; Hawaii County; and the DOH’s State Laboratories Division, District Health Offices of Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kaua‘i, Vector Control Branch, Safe Drinking Water Branch, Disease Outbreak Control Division, and Sanitation Branch.
Because of rising concerns over the recent increase in confirmed cases this year, the 2017 Hawai‘i State Legislature appropriated $1 million ($500,000 over two years) to the DOH to increase public education and improve control and prevention of rat lungworm disease. The funding will make possible a statewide media campaign in partnership with the Hawai‘i Association of Broadcasters to build public awareness of ways to prevent the spread of the parasitic disease.
Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said, “We appreciate the Legislature’s support in allowing the state to accelerate our efforts on this important initiative. The funds will provide much needed resources for our public health communications efforts as well as strengthen our disease investigation and vector control measures for rat lungworm disease.”
In addition to a statewide public awareness campaign, the DOH will work in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Hawai‘i, HDOA, and other agencies to conduct a targeted rat, slug and snail study to identify disease routes and provide data on disease risks from these vectors. A statewide study of this kind has never been conducted in Hawaii before because of limited resources. Findings from the study will guide vector control activities for rat lungworm prevention.
Funding from the Legislature will also support two temporary full-time staff positions to coordinate prevention efforts between county, state, federal, and private sector partners.
Currently, the DOH’s food safety inspectors and vector control staff are collaborating with HDOA to investigate any reports of produce shipments from any farmer or vendor (local or mainland) with an infestation of slugs or snails. If the shipment is traced to a local farm, inspectors work with the farmer to ensure proper pest reduction measures are implemented.
Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasite can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. People can become infected when they consume infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts (slugs, snails, freshwater prawns, frogs, crayfish, and crabs).
Although the rat lungworm parasite has been found in slugs and snails throughout the state, Hawai‘i Island has experienced the majority of the confirmed cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe and debilitating, and can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or pain on the skin or in extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may occur, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare and serious type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).
To prevent the spread of rat lungworm infection, the public is urged to take these important steps:
- Always practice safe eating habits by inspecting, thoroughly washing, and properly storing raw produce, especially leafy greens, regardless of where it came from, and/or cooking it properly to kill any parasites. Washing raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly under running water before eating not only prevents rat lungworm, but also rinses off other contaminants.
- Eliminate snails, slugs and rats — all of which are potential vectors for the disease — both around residential home gardens and agricultural operations of all scales.
- Prevent the consumption of snails and slugs by covering all containers, from water catchment tanks to drink and food dishes. Supervise young children while playing outdoors to prevent them from putting a slug or snail in their mouths.
For more information on preventing rat lungworm disease, go to the DOH website at www.health.hawaii.gov
The Hawaii Immunization Coalition (HIC) is a community-based organization of individuals committed to improving immunization of Hawaii’s families. Several Tropical Medicine graduate students and faculty have partnered with HIC to engage in vaccination education projects for both health care professionals and the general public. Recently, two Tropical Medicine graduate students have been appointed to the HIC Board of Directors:
Francine Azouz ((2017-2019)
Francine Azouz is the newest addition to the HIC board. Francine is pursuing a Masters degree at the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology at UH Manoa, where she works towards the development of novel therapeutic interventions for the clinical management of mosquito‐borne viruses like Zika and West Nile Virus. Francine is also President of the Student Immunization Initiative (SII), an organization led by graduate students advocating for vaccination and disease prevention.
Yukie Lloyd (2017-2019)
Yukie has served on the HIC board since the beginning of 2017 and was appointed as the incoming Secretary for the next year. Yukie is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology at UH Manoa and was the founding President of SII. As a clinical microbiologist, she strongly believes in vaccines for disease prevention and that providing correct information and knowledge on vaccines is essential.
Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE)
Accepting New Applications for our
Native Hawaiian Student Pathway to Medicine (NHSPM) program
Inspiring Native Hawaiian Students to be Our Future Physicians and Health Professionals
- We prefer that you use the Google form application on NHCOE website (under student section) at http://www.hawaii.edu/nhcoe/students/native-hawaiian-student-pathway-to-medicine/ If you have problems with the Google Form, please use PDF application form.
- Native Hawaiians (in Hawaii or Mainland college students) are encouraged to apply.
- NEIGHBOR ISLAND APPLICANTS are welcomed to apply. We may have travel stipends for Neighbor Island students to come to Oahu for NHSPM workshops.
- To be considered for early acceptance, email application by AUGUST 10, 2017.
- FINAL DEADLINE to email application is AUGUST 20, 2017.
- Check NHCOE website (student section) to see if we extend deadline.
- Preference given to Native Hawaiian applicants
- Pre-med Student: Applying to University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM) hoping to enter medical school in July 2018, 2019, or 2020.
- College Junior or Senior by Spring 2018. College graduates from any institution (with Bachelor’s degree or higher) are welcome to apply.
- Completed (or started) at least 3 of the following pre-requisite subjects for taking the MCAT. We strongly recommend re-taking any of these classes if you received less than a C- grade.
Cell and Molecular Bio
The Native Hawaiian Student Pathway to Medicine (NHSPM) is a program of the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE) at Department of Native Hawaiian Health, University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM). The NHSPM program guides Native Hawaiian students on their path to becoming future physicians and health professionals. The curriculum consists of workshops and individualized advising/career counseling for selected individuals who demonstrate potential to be competitive medical school or pre-health applicants. There will be opportunities to do community health work and to apply for funding for Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) prep.
NHSPM Scholars Receive:
- Learning from Native Hawaiian health professionals and med students
- Navigating the medical school application process
- Interview skills / Mock interview practice
- Learning skills & strategies
- Community health work: Inspiring Native Hawaiian youth to live healthy
Individualized Advising / Career Counseling
- Discuss diverse options in the health professions and your career path
- Discuss your medical school application strategy
- Review your personal statement, application, grades, and MCAT scores
- Receive assistance with clinical shadowing opportunities
Opportunity to apply for NHCOE funding for MCAT Prep
- Test taking strategies & Course materials
- Full length MCAT practice exams
NHCOE Website www.hawaii.edu/nhcoe
On September 17th, 2016, the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center hosted the 6th annual “Quest for a Cure: Progress in Cancer Research” community event at Sullivan Conference Center. Speakers and booths promoting the prevention and early detection of cancer were featured at this event which attracted more than 150 community participants.
The Student Immunization Initiative, a Registered Independent Organization at UH Manoa founded by Tropical Medicine graduate students, operated an exhibit to provide information about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer and certain other cancers. Graduate students Yukie Lloyd, Eleanore Chuang, and Priscilla Seabourn from the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology, Asami Nago from the Department of Medical Anthropology, and undergraduate students, Bradley Thomas and Michael Fernandez, organized and staffed the exhibit with the assistance of Dr. Sandra Chang. The exhibit featured educational brochures and posters, a movie trailer on HPV and cancer, and an interactive jeopardy game to educate attendees on HPV vaccination. Event participants who visited the exhibit expressed interest in learning about how to prevent cancer in the next generation by vaccination and sharing this information with their children and grandchildren.
The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care. The mission of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology is to provide the future leaders in Tropical Medicine with a world-class, transdisciplinary research and teaching program that focuses on basic, translational, and field research on microbial diseases of global public health importance and of special interest to Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region.