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Puna Man Charged in Kidnapping Incident

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has charged a 42-year-old Puna man in connection with a domestic violence related kidnapping incident.

Timothy Wayne Torres

Timothy Wayne Torres was arrested by patrol officers on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2018, at 2:15 p.m., in Puna and later charged by detectives with two misdemeanor and one felony abuse of a family or household member, kidnapping and first degree terroristic threatening in connection with an incident reported on Saturday, January 20.

Torres is being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $55,000 bail pending his initial court appearance in South Hilo District Court scheduled for this afternoon, Monday, Feb. 5.

Anyone who may have any information about this incident is asked to call Detective Matthew Kaaihue of the Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 961-8883 or Matthew.Kaaihue@hawaiicounty.gov.

$86 Million Sought for Puna CIP Projects

Rep. Joy San Buenventura

Hawai‘i Rep. Joy San Buenventura submitted House Bill 1617 relating to Capital Improvement Projects, seeking to appropriate more than $86 million in funds to help with the Puna District of Hawai‘i.

“Its about time that the children of Pāhoa Elementary School have their own cafeteria,” said Rep. Buenventura. “Kids should not need to cross the street and share a cafeteria with the teenagers of Pāhoa High & Intermediate. With a growing population, Pāhoa Elementary School should have its own cafeteria. Pāhoa Intermediate School needs a covered play court—separate from the older children of Pāhoa High School. The Highway 130 four-lane project has been in the books for awhile and is already in the 2019 budget. Having it in this bill is a reminder to have it funded.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2018, the bill was introduced and it passed the first reading.

The following projects were included on HB1617 that Rep. Buenventura is seeking appropriations for.

Pāhoa Elementary School:

Design and construction to renovate restrooms:

  • Design $10,000
  • Construction $50,000

Total $60,000

Design and construction for campus-wide repair and maintenance projects to reroof buildings and repaint building interiors and exteriors:

  • Design $105,000
  • Construction $440,000

Total $545,000

Also included in the elementary school appropriation, $9 million for construction for a new cafeteria and administration building.

Total funding sought for Pāhoa Elementary School: $9.605 million.

Pāhoa High and Intermediate Schools:

Plan, design, construction and equipment for a covering for the middle school play court:

  • Plans $100,000
  • Design $100,000
  • Construction $500,000
  • Equipment $300,000

Total $1 million

Plans, design, construction and equipment for a covered courtyard next to the gym:

  • Plans $10,000
  • Design $10,000
  • Construction $50,000
  • Equipment $30,000

Total $100,000

Plans, design, construction and equipment for a covered walkway from the cafeteria to the upper portables:

  • Plans $30,000
  • Design $30,000
  • Construction $150,000
  • Equipment $90,000

Total $300,000

Plans, design, construction and equipment to upgrade the track field:

  • Plans $1.5 million
  • Design $1.5 million
  • Construction $7.5 million
  • Equipment $4.5 million

Total $15 million

Total funding sought for Pāhoa High and Intermediate Schools: $16.4 million.

Highway 130 Map provided by Kea‘au-Pahoa Advisory Group (KPAG).

The bill also would appropriate $15 million for construction of a “Highway 130 Bypass Road” between Milo Street and Hawaiian Paradise Park as an alternate to Highway 130.

Also included in the initial version of the bill is $40 million for Highway 130 road improvements so  construction to expand the highway from two to four lanes or alternate alignments in that corridor between Kea‘au and Pāhoa can be completed.

Total funding sought for Highway 130 projects: $55 million.

Finally, the bill includes $5 million to plan, design, construct and for land acquisition for a wastewater treatment plant:

  • Plans $600,000
  • Design $750,000
  • Construction $1.75 million
  • Land acquisition $1.9 million

Total Funding: $5 million

Total funding requested for appropriation in HB1617: $86,005 million

Residents wishing to submit testimony, may do so online.

New Park Proposed for Hawaiian Paradise Park

The Department of Parks and Recreation is proposing to develop a master plan for a new public park within Hawaiian Paradise Park.

There will be two public presentations:

The first presentation will be from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 7th

The second presentation will be from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, February 19th

The location for both presentations will be the Hawaiian Paradise Park Owners Association Activity Center located at 15-1570 Maku’u Drive between 16th and 17th Streets in Kea‘au. The public is invited to attend both meetings.

The purpose of the first public meeting is to present the Department’s proposed vision, goals, and preliminary alternative plans and to gather input from the community and interested parties. The purpose of the second public meeting will be to present the preliminary master plan and gather any additional input.

The new park would be located on a County-owned, 20-acre parcel bordered by Kaloli Drive, 25th Avenue and 26th Avenue. Proposed facilities being considered in the master plan include a baseball and softball field, soccer and football field, tennis courts, skate park, playground, covered play courts, and a community center.

For more information or to request special assistance for these meetings, please contact
Jared Chang from SSFM International at 808-356-1242 or jchang@ssfm.com. If requesting special assistance, please contact Jared at least three days prior to the meeting.

Man Shot in Leilani Estates – Ongoing Hostage Situation

2:43 p.m. UPDATE:  The hostage situation has ended in the Puna District. A 33-year-old suspect has been arrested. Leilani Blvd.between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed.

Hawaiʻi Police are investigating an ongoing hostage incident in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna.

This morning at about 5:40 a.m., Puna District Patrol Officers responded to a call of a shooting on Nohea Street. A 25-year-old male victim was located shot several times about his body. That male victim was then transported to Hilo Medical Center where he remains in stable condition.

The suspect in this shooting was then located at a residence on Leilani Boulevard where he barricaded himself inside. This incident is currently being investigated as a hostage situation, and the Hawaiʻi Police Department Special Response Team and Crisis Negotiators are on the scene.

The suspect, in this case, is believed to be armed with a firearm.

Leilani Boulevard between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed and neighboring residents have been asked to evacuate. Police ask that members of the public avoid the area for their safety as well as that of the first responders in the area.

Community Forum on Crime & Drug Abuse in Puna

Concerned about all the crimes being reported on Facebook sites like Big Island Thieves, Big Island Po Po Alert and East Hawaii Watch these days???

A community forum hosted by Rep. Joy San Buenaventura on crime and drug abuse, will be held at the Pahoa Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Guest speakers scheduled to appear are:

  • Mitch Roth, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Brandee Menino, HOPE Services
  • Officer Davy Kamalii and Officer Jeremy Kubojiri, Hawaii County Police Department, Puna District Patrol Division
  • Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons
  • (Tentatively Scheduled) – B.I.S.A.C. (Big Island Substance Abuse Council)
  • Neighborhood Watch

Body Found Along Puna Shoreline

Hawaiʻi Island police have opened a Coroner’s Inquest investigation in connection with a body that was found in Puna.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, patrol officers responded to the Kalapana Gardens area after a hiker discovered a body clad in a gray T-shirt and green shorts in a remote location along the coastline.

Detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section responded to the scene, but because of the body’s advanced state of decomposition, neither the age, gender or identity of the victim could be immediately determined.

Due to darkness and limited accessibility to the area, police secured the scene until the next morning.

The following morning, Wednesday, Dec. 6, detectives returned to the scene, which had been held by patrol officers. With the assistance of the Hawai‘i County Fire Department’s helicopter, the body was airlifted out of the area and taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where the official pronouncement of death was made at 12:30 p.m.

An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of death. This is currently classified as an unattended death.

Anyone who may have saw someone with this clothing description in the area or have any other information about this incident is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Wendall Carter of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2383 or Wendall.Carter@hawaiicounty.gov.

Aloha From Lavaland Documentary Debuts Online

Courtesy image

Hawaiian anthropological documentary Aloha From Lavaland is scheduled to be released on Amazon and iTunes on Nov. 15, 2017. The film follows the aftermath of the 2014 eruption of Hawai‘i’s Kilauea volcano, which sent a flow of lava directly toward the center of Pahoa, a small rural town on Hawai‘i Island.

Hard to predict and impossible to stop, the flow threatened to cut off the town’s only access road, leaving the residents of this remote community to rely heavily on one another as they prepare for possible isolation.

Produced in conjunction with Gift Culture Media, Larkin Pictures and Pure Mother Love, this 55 minute documentary explores an inner community perspective of the lava flow, following residents as they ask and answer important questions about community, sustainability, harmony, and what it really means to live in such an unpredictable paradise.

In addition to street interviews and news coverage, the documentary follows a local Hawaiian kumu (healer), a sustainability expert and the leader of a sovereign Hawaiian community over a period of seven months as they attempt to prepare for the unpreparable.

“Puna is unlike any place I’ve ever lived,” says co-director Suzenne Seradwyn, who has created films in Los Angeles, New Mexico and Hawai‘i. “The people here have different values because of the natural elements at play and the rich cultural history surrounding those elements. There is a very important message to share about what happens when you allow yourself to trust these elements.”

“This film is important for anyone living in a state of change, whether it be due to external elements or an internal shift,” says the film’s co-director, Phillips Payson. “Part of what this film explores is how one’s attitude toward change can make all the difference.” Before moving to the Big Island, Payson worked in the film industry in New York and Los Angeles. This is his fourth film.

Aloha from Lavaland premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival and has won three awards including Best Hawai‘i Film at the Honolulu Film Awards.

To view the Aloha from Lavaland trailer, click here. You can also learn more about the film online.

 

Town Hall Meeting on Healthcare Set for Puna District

Pāhoa Community Center. Big Island Now Photo

The East Hawai‘i Regional Board of Directors of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation will hold its annual community meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pāhoa Community Center.

The Board and Regional Administration will provide an overview of the operations and financial condition of all of the facilities, as well as a view toward the future.

“The East Hawai‘i Regional Board is looking forward to hearing your input and ideas for healthcare in the Puna District,” said Dr. Dan Belcher, Chair of the East Hawai‘i Regional Board of HHSC.

Members of the community are invited to share their perspectives and concerns regarding access to healthcare services.

The East Hawai‘i Regional Board of Directors was created by the Hawai‘i State legislature under Act 290 in 2007.

For more information contact Terry Larson, Regional Board Secretary at 932-3103.

The Pāhoa Community Center is located at 15-3022 Kauhale Street.

Big Island Police Searching for 18-Year-Old Puna Man Wanted in Burglary Investigation

Hawaiʻi Island police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating an 18-year-old Puna man wanted in connection with a burglary investigation.

Donald Kepner

Sought is Donald Kepner, described as Caucasian, 5-feet-10-inches, 150 pounds, blue eyes and blonde hair. Kepner is known to frequent the Puna area.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective William Brown at (808) 961-8883 or William.brown@hawaiicounty.gov

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

End of an Era – Keaau Village Market Demolished

I just drove by Keaau Village Market and was stunned to see it getting demolished.

I spoke with a lady at 7-11 across the street and she said that there was going to be a CVS Longs Market moving into the parcel.

Hawaii Electric Light Company was on scene today removing it’s electrical equipment from the premise.

Businesses were given 30 days to move out of the location and October 15th was the last day tenants were able to remove their stuff.
The Hawaii Tribune heard rumors that Walgreens might be opening in the location and when I called Bill Walters of Shipman Park to confirm whether it would be CVS Longs or Walgreens he declined to comment and said an announcement would be forthcoming from the store themselves and not Shipman Park.

Walters did confirm that the Sakata Statue that was placed there in 2006 to celebrate the Filipino culture and the people of the area will remain in place and will be kept up by the new tenant.

The new store will begin construction soon and as soon as I confirm which store it is… I will let folks know.

 

Puna Man Charged in Stabbing Incident

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 32-year-old Puna man in connection with a stabbing in Puna.

At 12:26 a.m., on (October 12), officers responded to a residence in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision to a report of a man who had been stabbed by another man who shared the same home.

The victim, a 34-year-old Puna man, sustained stab wounds to his neck and was taken by medics to the Hilo Medical Center in serious but stable condition. He was later flown via air ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu for additional treatment and has since been upgraded to good condition.

Michael Potee

At 12:40 a.m., the suspect, Michael Potee, was arrested at the scene and taken to the Hilo cellblock while detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section continued the investigation.

Friday evening, (October 13), Potee was charged with second-degree assault. He was released from police custody at 9:10 p.m., after posting $2000 bail and is scheduled to appear in District Court on (November 16).

Anyone who may have knowledge about the incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Scott Amaral of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2384 or Scott.Amaral@hawaiicounty.gov.

Updated Map of Lava Flow Field

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of September 21 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of October 12 is shown in red. Older Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tube.

The blue lines over the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Puna Kai Shopping Center Breaks Ground

Today, ground was broken for the new Puna Kai Shopping Center that will be located in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About 100 community members along with dignitaries from the county and the mayor’s office were in attendance.
Pi’ilani Ka’awaloa gave the opening pule (prayer) and blessing of the land while elected officials and company representatives did the actual groundbreaking.

Situated on 9.93 acres, and featuring more than 83,110 SF of retail, office, dining, and entertainment space, Puna Kai will become the community’s premiere shopping center.

Conveniently located at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road & Kahakai Boulevard in the town of Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii.Puna Kai will be grocery anchored by 35,000 SF Malama Market (Malama Market name will be changed). Leasing opportunities are now  being offered from 1,000 SF to 5,540 SF.

Puna Kai, will provide a distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, entertainment, and eateries.
The building architecture will reflect the old Hawaii ambiance and charm, inspiring Puna Kai to be the gathering place in Pahoa that has something for everyone.

Puna Community Town Hall Meetings Hosted By Senator Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman will be hosting Puna Community Town Hall Meetings on Tuesday, October 24th in Pahoa and Wednesday, October 25th in Volcano:
I will be presenting some of my proposed legislation for the 2018 Legislative Session, and I invite you join me and take advantage of this opportunity for me to hear from you and give your input on these proposed measures, as well as hear your ideas for additional legislation to be introduced this next year.

My staff and I will also be discussing how you can be directly involved in the legislative process – by submitting language for legislation, contacting legislators and submitting testimony, and how to track legislation as it is referred to various committees and moves through the legislature.
Light refreshments will be served.

Senator Russell E. Ruderman
Senatorial District 2 – Puna-Ka’u

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 27-Year-Old Puna Woman

UPDATE:  Hawaiʻi Island police have located Sadie Ditus who was reported as missing earlier today (October 9).  She was found in good condition in Hilo at 11:00 a.m.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 27-year-old Puna woman reported as missing.

Sadie Ditus

Sadie Ditus, was last seen in Hilo (October 3).

She is 5-feet-8-inches, 115 pounds, thin build, pale complexion, with blue eyes and shoulder-length curly light-brown hair.

She is known to frequent and lives in the Pāhoa area.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Officer Terrance Scanlan at the Puna Police Station (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Investigating Puna Shooting Incident

Hawaiʻi Island police are conducting an investigation into a reported shooting incident in Puna yesterday, (October 5), which resulted in a 63-year-old sustaining gunshot wounds to his chest and head.

At 3:05 p.m., Wednesday evening, (October 5), police responded to the Hawaiian Acres subdivision for a report of a man down in his driveway with wounds to his head and chest. The victim was transported to the Hilo Medical Center by Hawaiʻi Fire Department personnel and later flown to Queen’s Medical Center by air ambulance in serious condition.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (80 8) 935-3311 or Detective Dean Uyetake of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2379 or dean.uyetake@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Pahoa Scholars Feast Fundraiser Update – Scholarships Available

This past Saturday, on September 30th, hundreds gathered to support the Pahoa Schools Booster Club and Scholarship Fund on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church. Following this past weekend’s successful event, the organization has announced that $5,000 will be available for the Class of
2018 scholarship awards.

The Pahoa High School Girls’ Volleyball Team joined the Boys of Youth Challenge and dozens of community volunteers in creating and delivering an awesome Vegan Lasagna and Ribeye Steak meal to over 350 hungry supporters.

Our most heart-felt thanks to everyone, including the generous contributions from Island Natural Foods, Malama Market, Tin Shack Bakery, Kalani Honua, Ning’s Thai Cuisine, Stratos Pizzeria, Black Rock Café, Pahoa Auto Parts, Paul’s Repair, Boogie Woogie Pizza, Sustainable Island Products and Bananarama Bakery.

Under the leadership of organizers Mark Hinshaw, Nancy J Kramer CPA, Aaron Ferreira and Aunty Madie Greene, a good time was had by all!

The original Scholarship Endowment was established by the family of former Hawai’i County Council Member Richard G Edwards after his passing. As a former Puna Lion’s Club member, his family chose the Lion’s Club to administer the scholarship over the years.

This past year, responsibility was passed on to Mainstreet-Pahoa Associations’s Pahoa Schools Booster Club, under the financial guidance of Nancy J Kramer CPA. The initial endowment that was transferred to the Booster Club was $21,000 and thanks to the generous contributions this year by Kaleos Bar and Grill of $5,000 and the new Puna Kai Shopping Center of $5000, the current Endowment sits at $31,000. The current 2020 goal is $50,000.

Class of 2018 Scholarships also received significant contributions. Puna Geothermal Ventures provided of $1,000, local businessman Vernon Lindsey and Lava Shack $500. Former Pahoa High School Guidance Counselor Nancy Seifers has stepped up to create the “Aunty Nancy” Scholarship of $1,000.

This year’s work on the selection process, amounts to be awarded, and application tools will begin in November. The intention of the Pahoa Booster Club is to distribute the awards among all three area schools, HAAS, Kua O Ka La and Pahoa High School, to graduating Seniors with B average or better grades, who are choosing to continue their education at a university or community college.

The Class of 2018 specific award amounts and criteria for each award will be announced when the application materials are made available at the end of the year. All three schools are encouraged to participate in the application process.

Anyone wishing to obtain further information on contributing to the Scholarship Fund should contact us at PahoaBoosterClub@gmail.com or call 965-7110.

We are most encouraged at the success of this year’s event and we are already in the planning stages for next year’s Scholars Feast, the last Saturday of September in 2018.

I mua Pahoa!

Tomorrow – Mainstreet Pahoa Associations Scholars Feast

Hele-On (The Bus) Community Meetings in Puna

In 2010 Fourth District County Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi received a grant check for $7.2 million on behalf of the County of Hawai‘i from U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to fund mass transit improvements

I received the following from Councilwoman Jen Ruggles:

Aloha Kakou,

We are putting out the call to all the people in Puna that have ideas to improve our Hele-on Bus System. Now is the time to bring your needs and ideas forth.

This is the first of two rounds of meetings meant to guide the county in making its first ever 20 year Master Transit Plan. MARK YOUR CALENDAR to make one of the following meetings:

  • October 11th at 6pm at Kea’au Community Center 16-186 Pili Mua St. Kea’au HI 96749.
  • October 12th at 6pm at Pahoa Community Facility 15-2910 Kuahala St. Pahoa HI 96778.

Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Now is the time to show our need for:

  1. More bus routes.
  2. Expanded routes into subdivisions
  3. Your ideas for improvements

Need a ride? Call Jo-Anna at 808-356-1260 to arrange a ride at least 5 days prior to the event. If you cannot attend, please submit your suggestions to heleonsuggestions@ssfm.com.

Baby in Puna Catches Rat Lungworm Disease – Hawaii Department of Health Confirms 17th Case of Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawaii for 2017

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed an additional case of rat lungworm disease in an infant from the Puna District of Hawaii Island. This is the tenth laboratory-confirmed case of rat lungworm disease contracted on Hawaii Island this year, bringing the statewide total to 17 cases in 2017. After a detailed investigation, DOH learned the infant became infected likely after accidentally consuming a slug or snail.

“Kane’s slowly getting better but it will take time. He had RAT LUNGWORM for 9 DAYS & i took him to his doctor, urgent care & hilo medical center MULTIPLE TIMES before they finally listened to me & did a blood sample on him. Can you imagine if my baby would have died from this? & Me knowing that i did my best to tell doctors to check his blood because in my gut i could feel that it wasn’t the flu or him teething. I hope you guys feel real dumb for ignoring my instincts, i am glad that i was firm because the ER wanted to SEND US HOME AGAIN WITHOUT A BLOOD SAMPLE, but i refused to let that happen a 2nd time around. Any ways, i am grateful that he is a fighter & i am positive that he will make a full recovery.” Santini N Dylan Tauanuu

“This is an extremely unfortunate incident, with the infant currently hospitalized and receiving care,” said Aaron Ueno, Hawaii Island District Health Officer. “While the department is unable to provide specific information on this individual case, we can take this time to remind parents and caregivers about the importance of preventing infants and young children from putting slugs, snails, or other items in their mouths. We know that slugs, snails, and rats in all counties carry the parasite that can cause rat lungworm disease, so watching over young children is especially important.”

He added, “The Hawaii Island District Health Office is making a concerted effort to reach parents and caregivers of infants and young children by providing education and resources about rat lungworm disease prevention to our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Early Intervention Services clients and our partners, including pediatricians and other healthcare providers.”

DOH recommends all parents and caregivers of infants and young children take extra precautions, including:

  • Watch infants, toddlers, and children carefully while they are playing and make sure they are not picking up slugs, snails, or other objects from the ground and putting those into their mouths.
  • Help children properly wash their hands after playing and/or on the ground using running water and soap.
  • When consuming food and drinks, close and seal containers when not in use to prevent slugs and snails from crawling inside, especially when left on or near the ground.

The public is urged to take the following precautions to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • Carefully inspect, wash, and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.
  • All fruits and vegetables should be washed and rubbed under running water, especially leafy greens, to remove any tiny slugs or snails.
  • Controlling snail, slug, and rat populations is one of the most important steps in fighting the spread of rat lungworm disease. Eliminate slugs, snails, and rats around properties, and especially around home gardens.
  • Farmers as well as food handlers and processors should increase diligence in controlling slugs, snails, and rats on the farm.

Rat lungworm disease (angiostrongyliasis) is contracted when a person becomes infected with the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This happens when a person accidentally consumes raw or undercooked infected slugs, snails, freshwater shrimp, land crabs or frogs. The most common symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness, but symptoms may vary widely among cases. The most serious cases experience neurological problems, pain, and severe disability.

More information about the signs and symptoms of rat lungworm disease may be found at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/ and https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2017/01/RLD-rackcard-version1_06152017.pdf. The first in a series of public service announcements about rat lungworm disease prevention is posted on the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s website at http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/main/rat-lungworm-information/.