Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige’s Joint Task Force on Rat Lungworm Disease is announcing new preliminary guidelines for the clinical management of angiostrongyliasis, more commonly known as rat lungworm disease, according to a news release from the University of Hawai‘i.

The new guidelines may be used by Hawai‘i physicians immediately and provide clear diagnosis, treatment, and management guidance for timely identification and care for patients who have contracted the disease.

“One of the top priorities of the Joint Task Force has been to develop sound, evidence-based guidelines for physicians to use in diagnosing and treating angiostrongyliasis,” said Kenton Kramer, Ph.D., chair of the Joint Task Force and associate professor of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology with the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM). “The Clinical Subcommittee, made up of expert physicians and specialists from across the state, spent the last year researching and consulting with national and international specialists on the disease to carefully craft the new guidelines.”

Vernon Ansdell, M.D. — an associate professor at UH-JABSOM and physician with more than 45 years of experience specializing in internal and tropical medicine — spearheaded the effort and chaired the Clinical Subcommittee.

“Prior to the extensive work completed by the subcommittee, there were no clear, reliable diagnosis and treatment protocols available to Hawai‘i physicians for this potentially serious and debilitating disease,” Dr. Ansdell said. “Diagnosing angiostrongyliasis can be problematic because patients infected with the parasite do not always present the same symptoms. These preliminary guidelines provide critical guidance to physicians to help them make timely and accurate diagnoses and give their patients the best possible treatment available. Our next step is to offer physician training in all counties to increase awareness and understanding of this complex disease.”

Members of the Clinical Subcommittee will be offering Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses through UH-JABSOM in all counties, starting in Hilo on the Big Island on Oct. 10. CME courses will also be offered on Maui, Kaua‘i, and in Honolulu in early 2019 with the schedule and more details to be announced later this year.

For information on the CME courses, go to http://manoa.hawaii.edu/tropicalmedicine/?page_id=3783.