Addressing angiostrongyliasis on Hawai'i Island with research, education outreach, and host control

Howe, Mary Kathleen
Jarvi, Susan I.
Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science
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Hawaii Island has the highest incidence of rat lungworm disease (RLWD) of all the Hawaiian Islands and the mainland United States. The relatively recent introduction of the semi-slug Parmarion martensi, an effective intermediate host, and the wide-spread use of rainwater catchment systems may play a role. Studies were designed to investigate the ability of drowned gastropods to shed larvae, the location in a water column where larvae would most likely be found, the potential for larval passage through a 20μm filter, and the ability of the larvae to survive outside the slug/snail host. Whole P. martensi shed many, viable A. cantonensis larvae with >90% of larvae found in samples taken from the bottom of the water column, suggesting they may settle near the bottom of a catchment tank. Larvae that were able to pass through a 20μm sieve could not survive acid, were active for at least 56 days outside the slug host, and tested positive for RLW by qPCR. Larvae that could not pass through a 20μm sieve were able to survive HCl-pepsin, were active for at least 21 days, and tested positive for RLW. First stage larvae can survive gut acid when swallowed after migration from the lungs but cannot withstand acid immersion again until they become third stage larvae.The study results merit further investigation into the potential link between poorly maintained rainwater catchment systems and the high incidence of RLWD on Hawaii Island, and the studies clearly demonstrate the need for control of hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis. Hawaii’s remote location makes food security an important issue. State-wide efforts to promote the Grow Local, Eat Local movement are reflected in the growing number of residential gardens, small farms, farmers’ markets, school and youth garden projects, and the recent passage of the Farm to School Bill. However, efforts to educate farmers, food handlers, and consumers about rat lungworm disease and the need for disease prevention and host control has not been similarly supported. In collaboration with five partner schools on Hawaii Island, the University of Hawaii, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy’s Hawaii Island Rat Lungworm Working Group worked with students and teachers to develop an integrated pest management plan for school garden projects. Integrated pest management allows for the careful consideration of applications available to control a pest event and chooses those practices that are least harmful to human and environmental health. These best practices include preventative cultural practices, monitoring, mechanical control, biological control, and the responsible use of pesticides. Students were intensively educated about RLWD, the parasite’s life cycle, and prevention measures. Using best management practices, we set up traps and collected data on gastropod species abundance, and shelter-type capture rate. Integrating STEM curriculum makes the project attractive to schools as it supports student academic success. Adoption of this management project by the many school and youth garden projects in areas of RLWD can exponentially increase community awareness, encourage control efforts, and potentially map disease risk.
Environmental health, Parasitology, Environmental education, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, angiostronyliasis, Hawaii, integrated pest management, rat lungworm, rat lungworm disease
157 pages
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