Latest News from BPCA

16 May 2017

Brain-Invading Parasite Spreads Through Climate Change

Health officials in Hawaii have been warning residents not to touch snails or slugs with their bare hands because of an increase in cases of a rare parasitic infection known as rat lungworm. Experts are blaming its sudden spread across the United States on climate change and globalisation.

Brain invading parasite spread through slugsIn the last two decades, there have only been two documented cases of rat lungworm infections in Hawaii. But in the past three months, six more cases have occurred in rapid succession, with more across other states. Believed to have spread to the U.S. by way of rats in cargo ships, rat lungworm is a parasitic nematode (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) that begins its life as an infection in rat’s lungs, blood, and brains. From there, the rats defecate worm larvae that are spread to other creatures like snails, slugs, and freshwater shrimp. Humans might eat one of these infected hosts or food contaminated by one. Once rat lungworm disease moves into the brain it can cause meningitis and its symptoms include tremors, pain, and inflammation; it is often fatal. The severity of the disease can vary wildly, there’s no known treatment, and it’s notoriously difficult to diagnose.

Locals say that they’ve become increasingly paranoid about eating produce and they line their yards with slug bait. And for an area that thrives on tourism, paranoia about eating the local food can be an economic nightmare. A 2004 World Health Organisation report warned that “most new infections seem to be caused by pathogens already present in the environment, which have been brought out of obscurity, or given a selective advantage, by changing ecological or social conditions.”

While this particular pest isn’t currently a concern in the UK, it shows that climate change plus globalisation are likely to increase the importance of public health pest control in years to come.


Dee-ward-thompson-Staff-bubbleDee Ward-Thompson
Technical Manager

5 May 2017  |  PPC87

Source: PPC87

Highlights View all news

13 February 2020

Latest news

GENERAL LICENCES: six licences reissued for control of wild birds

Defra has announced that six general licences for the control of wild birds in England will be reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August 2020.

Read more

06 February 2020

Latest news

BIG BIRD WRAP-UP: General and individual licences for bird control in the UK

Since April 2019, we’ve had many updates on general licences for bird control in the UK. This quick view page will give you all the headline information and latest updates on general and indi

Read more

05 February 2020

Latest news

How to apply for gull licence as deadline approaches

BPCA is advising all members that they should apply for their individual licences for gull control in good time for breeding season. On 30 January Natural England released

Read more
Latest View all news

16 February 2020

Latest news

Volunteers wanted: BPCA Executive Board

Because the BPCA AGM will be earlier this year, we’re appealing for Board members sooner than normal. The AGM will be held in April this year, alongside our Midland forum.

Read more

13 February 2020

Latest news

GENERAL LICENCES: six licences reissued for control of wild birds

Defra has announced that six general licences for the control of wild birds in England will be reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August 2020.

Read more

06 February 2020

Latest news

BIG BIRD WRAP-UP: General and individual licences for bird control in the UK

Since April 2019, we’ve had many updates on general licences for bird control in the UK. This quick view page will give you all the headline information and latest updates on general and indi

Read more