Water transmission potential of Angiostrongylus cantonensis: Larval viability and effectiveness of rainwater catchment sediment filters
Fischer, Bruce Torres
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Neuroangiostrongyliasis, caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, has been reported in Hawai'i since the 1950's. An increase in cases is being reported primarily from East Hawai'i Island, correlated with the introduction of the semi-slug Parmarion martensi. Households in areas lacking infrastructure for water must use rainwater catchment as their primary domestic water supply, for which there is no federal, state, or county regulation. Despite evidence that slugs and snails can contaminate water and cause infection, regulatory bodies have not addressed this potential transmission route. This study evaluates: 1) the emergence of live, infective-stage A. cantonensis larvae from drowned, non-native, pestiforous gastropods; 2) larvae location in an undisturbed water column; 3) longevity of free-living larvae in water; and 4) effectiveness of rainwater catchment filters in blocking infective-stage larvae. Larvae were shed from minced and whole gastropods drowned in either municipal water or rainwater with similar to 94% of larvae recovered from the bottom of the water column 72-96 hours post drowning. Infective-stage larvae were active for 21 days in municipal water. Histological sectioning of P. martensi showed proximity of nematode larvae to the body wall of the gastropod, consistent with the potential for shedding of larvae in slime. Gastropod tissue squashes showed effectivity as a quick screening method. Live, infective-stage larvae were able to traverse rainwater catchment polypropylene sediment filters of 20 mu m, 10 mu m, 5 mu m, and 1 mu m filtration ratings, but not a 5 mu m carbon block filter. These results demonstrate that live, infective-stage A. cantonensis larvae emerge from drowned snails and slugs, survive for extended periods of time in water, and may be able to enter a catchment user's household water supply. This study illustrates the need to better investigate and understand the potential role of contaminated water as a transmission route for neuroangiostrongyliasis.