Rat lungworm transmitted by traditional Chinese remedies! Is the impression I get from some of the headlines. The New York Times has a story in Global Health with a close up of a caterpillar. If you actually read the story, it closes with

 

some traditionalists boil them in teas or pickle them in wine to use as home remedies.

“In my opinion, it would be rude to tell the customer, ‘Don’t eat them raw,’” [Dr. Lingli Lu, neurologist] said. “It would say the customer is stupid.”

 

And it’s true, one of the items in the pharmacopoeia is a venomous caterpillar. I don’t really remember it in my studies, since that was over a decade ago, and it wasn’t common. But I do remember that the ingredients of our nasty brews (except delicate aromatic herbs like mint) were boiled for at least 20 minutes.

The NYT story features a 2012 incident in Guangzhou. From unregulated folk medicine, with someone who didn’t think to prepare it properly. But rat lungworm has infected Americans in the United States. One of the google blurbs said it was “endemic in the southeastern US,” though the CDC doesn’t mention it. There have been cases in Hawaii, though. So where might rat lungworm live if not in rats and centipedes? Slugs and snails, and those babies are super tiny! Honolulu Family published notes on avoiding the wee beasties. In short, don’t drink out of the hose, wash wash wash, look at your produce carefully, freeze or cook your veggies. Chinese dietary theory says eating too many raw veggies is bad for you anyway.

My takeaway from this is that there are lots of things to worry about, but unless you live in slugland*, this probably shouldn’t make your top 100. Close ups of many legged creatures and fears of exotic illnesses sell papers, though**. And definitely don’t let it give you a bad impression of acupuncturists and herbalists! I get all my stuff from GMP certified sources, properly processed, in sealed packages. I don’t have the storage space to deal with nasty brews anyway; anything I order for you will be in a pill.

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*For my bf, who may well be freaking out about the arugula from my garden: no incidences in Texas that I know of, I haven’t had so much snail/slug trouble this year, and I always triple wash my harvest.

**Don’t “fake news” at me, though; the NYT is a fine source, and there were no lies here. I am just fleshing out the story in its relevance to me.

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