A California couple that went to Hawaii for their honeymoon almost tested that part of the marriage vows that says, “in sickness and in health” when they contracted a horrifying disease.
A brain-infecting parasite called “Rat Lung” infected Ben Manilla, 64, and 57-year-old Eliza Lape, who stayed in Maui after tying the knot in California.
“My symptoms started growing to feeling like somebody was taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body,” Lape told Hawaii News Now.
Each one had to spend over a month recovering from the debilitating disease. No one is entirely sure how the couple contracted the disease, but it is carried by rats and transmitted by snails and slugs. Certain shellfish, like crabs and freshwater shrimp may carry the rat lung disease as well, so it is important to be sure everything you eat on your trip is cooked!
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“I’ve had several operations, two pnuemonias, a blood clot,” he explained. “Right now, I’m dealing with a kidney issue, all of which was spurred by the rat lung.”
The couple said they’re not sure how they contracted the parasite, which is often carried by rats and transmitted by snails and slugs.
Humans typically acquire rat lungworm — which affects the brain and spinal cord — by eating raw produce that contains a contaminated pest. Eating contaminated animals, like freshwater shrimp and land crabs, could also lead to the infection, which triggers a type of meningitis that causes severe headaches, neck stiffness, pain, fever nausea and vomiting, according to Department of Health Disease Investigation Branch. Temporary paralysis in the face and sensitivity to light are also symptoms of the illness.
Manilla and Lape agreed to share their experience with the illness to educate others to take necessary precautions when traveling.
“Had we known we were walking into this kind of environment, we would have had a completely different attitude,” Lape said. “It really does disrupt and destroy people’s lives.”