Doctors in the St. Louis area were puzzled by nine cases of paragonimiasis, a rare condition in which a parasite infects a patient's lungs. The cases were unrelated to each other and spread over several years -and a further seven cases were found from other parts of Missouri. An investigation by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) uncovered what was happening. Apparently, some people who camp or raft on Missouri's rivers drink too much alcohol. Some get so drunk that they eat raw crawfish found in the river. The crawfish can carry a parasitic fluke, which is killed when food is cooked. But if ingested raw, the fluke can make its way from the digestive system to a person's lungs. This process can take months, and by the time a patient shows symptoms, it is difficult to trace the source of the infection.
Scientists from the CDC called in to help with the disease investigation were initially puzzled. Not by the disease so much, which is fairly common in Asian countries where raw crustaceans are part of the cuisine, but by why so many people were eating crawfish in Missouri.
Before the rash of illnesses here, there had been seven cases in all of North America in the previous 40 years.
Weil said a scientist at the CDC, which is in Atlanta, said to him, "In Georgia, we go canoeing and we see crawfish. It never occurred to me to eat one. What's wrong with you people?"
Doctors think the known cases may be just the tip of the iceberg. However, the condition is treatable when properly diagnosed. Link
(Image credit: Sam Leone/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)