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POSTED: Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Consumers advised to wash produce

The state Health Department cautioned islanders today to wash produce thoroughly to prevent exposure to pesticides, bacteria and parasites such as the rat lung worm, which it said caused six "probable" cases of illness last year on the Big Island.

Two of those patients were reported to be in a coma.

In all of those cases, residents regularly ate fresh raw vegetables from backyard gardens, the DOH said.

A rare form of meningitis is caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, called "rat lung worm" because rats are part of the parasite's life cycle, the health department said in a news release.

The infection can occur by eating uncooked snails, slugs, freshwater prawns and fish that have the parasite, the DOH said.

"It's important to always wash raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating them to remove insects, parasites, bacteria and other possibly harmful contaminants," said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division.

Rat worm disease can cause severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness and problems related to the brain and spinal cord. Most patients recover from the infection without treatment, but people who think they have the disease are urged to see a doctor.

Freshwater prawns, crabs or fish and mollusks, such as snails, should be cooked thoroughly to kill parasites.

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Lingle ordered to nominate regent

The Hawaii Supreme Court says Gov. Linda Lingle cannot have more time to appoint an at-large regent of the University of Hawaii and must nominate a person to fill the vacancy in five days.

The order, issued yesterday, requires Lingle to nominate a person from the list of candidates presented to her by the new Candidate Advisory Council last February.

There appear to be two remaining candidates on the at-large list, which started with five. The state Senate confirmed Teena Rasmussen for one vacancy and rejected Kitty Lagareta for the other last year. One of the three remaining candidates, former regent Andres Albano Jr., said last week that he withdrew his name from consideration.

The two remaining candidates are former student regent Michael Dahilig and attorney Terri Ann M.K. Motosue.

Senate leaders filed a challenge against Lingle for failing to replace six regents whose terms expired last year, including Lagareta.

In December, the state's high court ordered Lingle to fill the vacancies. Earlier this month, Lingle nominated five people and asked for more time to fill the sixth vacancy.

Views sought on next UH president

The committee charged with advising the Board of Regents on the selection of the next University of Hawaii president wants to hear from the public about what kind of person should be chosen.

The committee is holding a series of "listening tours" this week at various UH campuses.

Members of the committee, regents, and executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates are soliciting opinions on the characteristics, credentials, opportunities and challenges for the next UH president.

Listening tours were already conducted at UH-Hilo and Hawaii Community College.

Meetings today will be held at Kapiolani Community College's Tamarind Room in the Ohelo Building at 9 a.m.; UH-West Oahu at 2 p.m.; and Leeward Community College in GT 105 at 2 p.m.

Meetings are also scheduled:

Tomorrow:

» 9:30 a.m.: Maui Community College in Laulima 107.

» 2:30 p.m.: Kauai Community College cafeteria.

Friday:

» 9 a.m.: UH-Manoa's Hemenway Hall theater.

» Noon: Windward Community College in Hale Akoakoa 105

» 2:30 p.m.: Honolulu Community College's Norman W.H. Loui Conference Center, Building 2, Room 201.

For more information about the UH presidential search, visit http://www.hawaii.edu. Comments can also be sent by e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

$1.2M to help protect Haleakala

A partnership of the National Park Service and the Maui Invasive Species Committee has raised $1.2 million, which will be used to protect and restore Haleakala National Park.

The committee raised $600,000 for the annual National Park Service Centennial Challenge. Most of the money came from Maui County, with additional funds provided by the state. The federal government then matched the figure.

In announcing the funding last week, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono commended the committee for raising so much money "to protect one of Hawaii's most important ecological treasures."

Hirono said in a news release that the money will also help boost Maui's economy because most of the goods and services required will be provided by island businesses.