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Lahaina Intermediate and Maui High students study Rat Lungworm Disease

By Staff | Mar 7, 2019

For several weeks, Lahaina Intermediate School students have been searching for snails and slugs on campus.

LAHAINA – Students at Lahaina Intermediate School and Maui High School have been studying and collecting data about Rat Lungworm Disease.

The students have been learning about the disease and are being trained in data collection and prevention by their teachers, who studied on the Big Island last October.

The students learned the basics by completing work in a book provided by the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Next, they studied safety precautions that were demonstrated by their teachers, Diane Campbell of Lahaina Intermediate and Kara Knothe of Maui High School.

The teachers are encouraging their students to pass along the information to their families and community members.

A major concern is that younger siblings may be tempted to touch, pick up or play with snails. Humans are “accidental” hosts in the life cycle of the disease, and children can contract the disease by handling the snails.

Humans can also contract the disease by eating vegetables that the snails or slugs have traveled across and left larvae in their slime trails. Students are learning about the best techniques to wash vegetables.

For several weeks, the students have been searching for snails and slugs on their campuses. They have been collecting data that will be forwarded (along with data collected from other schools on other islands) to the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Students learned how to safely collect the snails and slugs, identify them and dispose of them in closed salt water containers. Every student on the slug hunts must wear gloves, and the specimens are handled using tongs.

Campbell and Knothe hope that by teaching Rat Worm Disease prevention to their students, the community may help curtail spread of the disease.