Man infected with angiostrongylus after eating snails

By Joy Lee, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾病管制局) revealed yesterday that a 48-year-old man had been infected with angiostrongylus cantonensis (廣東住血線蟲) after eating undercooked snails.

The CDC said that angiostrongylus cantonensis can enter the human body through the consumption of parasitized snails or slugs, so people should pay extra attention when handling these types of food.

According to the CDC, the man had snail soup with five of his friends a few days before exhibiting symptoms of headaches and neck stiffness.

CDC official, Doctor Luo Yi-jun (羅一鈞), said “he started to have fever and headaches after a week to a month of eating the snail soup and his doctor found that angiostrongylus cantonensis had affected his brain.”

According to the CDC, the patient is still undergoing medical treatment in a hospital. Meanwhile, his friends who had snail soup with him have not shown any symptoms of infection.

Luo said that snails are the primary intermediate hosts of angiostrongylus cantonensis. Humans are incidental hosts of this roundworm, and may become infected through ingestion of larvae in raw or undercooked snails or other vectors, or from contaminated water and vegetables. “When angiostrongylus cantonensis infects human brains,” Luo said, “the most common symptoms are headaches and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, and vomiting.” According to the CDC, aside from this patient, eight out of the nine people who were infected with angiostrongylus cantonensis last year had consumed snails. They all made full recoveries after receiving medical treatments.

The CDC said that people should wear gloves when handling snails and boil them for at least three minutes to avoid infection.

Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which is also known as the rat lungworm, is prevalent in Southeast Asia and tropical Pacific islands. The recognized distribution of the parasite has been increasing over time and infections have been identified in other areas, including Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.