Two Newlyweds from California are lucky to be alive after they visited the Hawaiian islands and contracted a deadly brain parasite.
Eliza Lape, 57, and her husband Ben Manilla, 64, decided to go to Hawaii for their honeymoon.
Little did they know they were about to contract a deadly brain parasite.
“Had we known we were walking into this kind of environment, we would have had a completely different attitude,” said Lape.
“My symptoms started growing to feeling like somebody was taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body,” she said.
The parasite in question, known as the rat lungworm disease, is spread by rats, slugs, and snails. Typically, it is ingested by humans who eat freshwater shrimp, land crabs, or raw produce containing parts of slugs or snails.
Manilla has struggled to recover from the parasite, landing in the ICU for over a month.
“I’ve had several operations, two pneumonias, a blood clot,” recalled Manilla, a teacher at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. “Right now, I’m dealing with a kidney issue, all of which was spurred by the ratlung.”
According to experts, the illness has been spreading and at least 11 cases of it were reported in 2016.
“They’re just reporting numbers being discharged from hospitals, so they’re missing all the other cases where people might go into a clinic and not a hospital,” said University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmaceutical sciences professor Susan Jarvi.
Epidemiologist Joe Elm said organic produce is the most likely thing to contain the parasite.
“I think the lack of pesticides on these crops are just an invitation for insects,” he explained to KHON2. “Like… here’s lunch! When you buy these products, we have to be careful.”