Twelve people in the continental U.S., including some toddlers, have been infected in recent years by a parasite called rat lungworm, which has the capacity to get into people’s brains, federal health officials said Thursday.
Because the parasite can be found across several states and often doesn’t cause severe symptoms, some additional cases might have gone unreported, NBC News reported.
After rat lungworm infected two people in China who ate raw centipedes last month, the parasite made headlines. People in the U.S. can catch it by eating snails or vegetables out of a home garden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Six of the cases identified by the CDC since 2011 were in people living in the southern U.S., including Texas, Tennessee and Alabama, the CDC said. The rest were in travelers who may have eaten the parasite overseas.