Rat lungworm disease spreads to American humans.

Can’t beat Science News‘ subhead for this story, which cautions us, if we want to avoid the meningitis-like symptoms, to “wash produce carefully and not eat raw snails or slugs“:

The disease is also known as angiostrongyliasis, after the parasitic roundworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis whose larvae hatch in the lungs of rats and then are expelled in the rodents’ excrement. At that point, the larvae can be picked up by snails and slugs, and then passed along to humans if the snails and slugs are eaten raw. On July 30, researchers added centipedes to the list of creatures that can transmit the disease to humans, after a Chinese woman and her son contracted the disease in 2012 after eating raw centipedes bought at a market ….

More than half of the recent U.S. cases involved patients who had eaten raw vegetables, likely inadvertently consuming a snail or slug, and at least one case involved a toddler who ate slugs while playing. Of the six cases confirmed as originating within the country, four were reported from Texas, one from Tennessee and one from Alabama.

“We don’t know exactly the source of the infection,” CDC epidemiologist Susan Montgomery says. “Fresh produce really should be washed thoroughly and carefully.”

The CDC also confirmed 18 cases and reported three more probable cases in 2017 alone in Hawaii.