A dream trip turned into a nightmare trip. After getting married in January, a couple from California headed to Maui for a honeymoon that turned disastrous after they both contracted a parasite that put them in intensive care for two months.
According toHawaii News Now, Ben Manilla, 64, and Eliza Lape, 57, held their wedding on the Hawaiian island earlier this year and planned to spend two weeks honeymooning in Hana, a remote area on Maui. But Lape started feeling sick and noticed something was wrong before the honeymoon was over, and told Hawaii News Now the sensation was like “somebody taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body.”
Manilla spent a month being treated in the ICU after leaving Maui and is still in the hospital recovering. “I’ve had several operations, two pneumonias, a blood clot,” he told Hawaii News Now. “Right now, I’m dealing with a kidney issue, all of which was spurred by the rat lung.”
Both Lape and Manilla had contracted rat lungworm disease — a disease that’s spread by parasites that infect rats, and affects the brain and spinal cord in humans. As reported by Fox, Hawaii is currently experiencing an increased number of rat lungworm cases, including Lape’s and Manilla’s. In 2017 alone, the Hawaii State Department of Health has confirmed six cases of rat lungworm disease with ties to Maui. By comparison, the department reported 11 total cases in 2016 across the entire state.
Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, told Fox that Hawaii typically sees one to nine reports of rat lungworm disease in a year, with two related deaths since 2007. Humans typically come into contact with the parasite that carries the disease by eating raw produce that contains a small slug or snail — both of which can become infected with the parasite by ingesting infected rat feces.
For their part, Manilla and Lape aren’t sure, exactly, how they came into contact with the disease — they just want the public to be aware, and to take precautions to avoid falling ill and enduring long, arduous trial.
“Had we known we were walking into this kind of environment, we would have had a completely different attitude,” Lape told Hawaii News Now. “It really does disrupt and destroy people’s lives.”