“It is believed that most of the symptoms in humans result from the body’s robust immune response – we throw eosinophils and cytokines at this big organism (think monster big compared to a bacterium), and there is much collateral, friendly fire damage.” Dr. Chad Meyer

The slug itself is the vector that releases the parasite into the digestive track. If accidentally ingested by human (or some animals) the larvae enter the bloodstream through the intestines and makes its way to the brain, where the body’s natural defense attacks the larvae. The larvae will eventually die—humans do not pass the larvae on through their feces; however the ensuing battle takes a deleterious toll on the body, often with long term effects on the nervous system, especially devastating in children’s developing and vulnerable systems.

Be alert to symptoms

  • Severe, new onset, headaches with poor response to analgesics
  • Hypersensitivity to touch, and burning sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever, nausea,vomiting, abdominal pain

Hypersensitivity to skin, headache, paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can also occur in other parts of the body), pain that moves from one area of the body to another – neck and shoulder, leg next day, back to head. The vague initial symptoms mimic other diseases, like leptospirosis and typhus, these must be diagnosed and treated with antibiotics quickly. If these or flu-like symptoms appear, see your doctor immediately. In East Maui, contact Hana Health.

Currently, a spinal tap is the only method of diagnosis that the Department of Health counts for confirmed cases. However, a doctor may make a symptom-based diagnosis and prescribe treatment for patients who are unable or who don’t want to get a spinal tap. Research is currently being done on bio-assays that can be used for a less invasive diagnosis, and to get a better idea of the true extent of the disease infections in Hawaii.