Newlyweds contract rat lungworm disease on Hawaii honeymoon

- A California couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii contracted a brain- and spine-infecting parasite.

Ben Manilla, 64, and Eliza Laupe, 57, got married in January, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday. The newlyweds spent two weeks in Hana, but by the time they were set to return to San Francisco, Laupe was already feeling the effects from rat lungworm disease.

"My symptoms started growing to feeling like somebody was taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body," she told Hawaii News Now.Manila, a teacher at the University of California at Berkeley, spent a month is still in the hospital undergoing rehabilitation.

"I've had several operations, two pneumonias, a blood clot. Right now, I'm dealing with a kidney issue, all of which was spurred by the ratlung," he said.

The couple said they were unsure how they contracted the disease. They hope to warn others to take the proper precautions to avoid a similar harrowing ordeal. Since 2017, there have been six confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease with ties to Maui, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

The disease affects the brain and spinal cord and is spread by a parasite that infects rats, which can pass larvae of the worm in their feces.

The disease is passed to humans through unwashed produced or contaminated animals such as freshwater shrimp and land crab. It can be life threatening.

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