...Halda said he and a friend, Silka Strauch, who live in Black Sands between Pahoa and Kalapana, have been eating raw vegetables and taking precautions by cleaning the produce with a peroxide rinse.
He suspects they may have accidentally consumed tiny larvae of slugs lodged in the deep folds of peppers.
Halda said Strauch came down with agonizing pain, but no one at Hilo Medical Center could find anything wrong with her initially and she was not admitted to the hospital.
"I had to take her home ... three separate times," he said. "No one should have to be turned away."
Halda said Strauch was unable to walk and had pain so intense that even the slightest touch hurt her.
"You couldn't even put a sheet on her," he said.
He said Strauch was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 8, and he was admitted on Dec. 15.
Strauch has been in a coma for several days, he said.
Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, said there is no diagnostic test that confirms the presence of rat lungworm disease, short of finding the parasite, and physicians have to rely partially on the likelihood of possible exposure through a patient's food history.
She said in certain instances, an analysis of spinal fluid can indicate the likelihood of rat lungworm disease.