A WORM capable of causing meningitis in humans has been found for the first time in Spain’s Mallorca.
It is only the second time that the Angiostronggylus cantonensis has been detected in the whole of Europe.
The parasite can cause neurological conditions in animals and humans, including eosinophilic meningitis.
Two specimens were found in hedgehogs from different parts of the island last year.
They both arrived at the Centre for Wildlife Recovery of the Balearic Islands Wildlife Recovery Consortium (COFIB).
Dr Claudia Paredes, from a team of researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands, warned that the worms could spread to the human population.
This was most likely to occur by people eating under-cooked or raw snails or slugs, she said at a press conference.
According to Medicine.net: “People become infected with this parasite by ingesting its larvae in raw or insufficiently cooked snails, slugs, freshwater prawns, frogs, or fish.
“Infection may also occur by consumption of fresh produce such as contaminated lettuce.
“Symptoms include headache, neck pain, visual disturbances, and hyperesthesias.
“Most cases of eosinophilic meningitis due to A. cantonensis are self-limited and resolve without complications.
“However, neurologic sequelae do develop in some cases, and deaths have been reported from the disease.”