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Lungworm victim treated in Germany


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POSTED: Monday, July 06, 2009

A woman recuperating from rat lungworm disease on the Big Island has been flown to Germany where she is expected to undergo treatment in hopes of getting her off a breathing machine.

Silka Strauch arrived last Monday in Dresden, said her friend Kristina Mauak. “;We are all very happy and relieved,”; she said. “;We are so hopeful now.”;

Strauch's parents from Germany have been on the Big Island for several months trying to raise money to fly her to Dresden for the treatment.

They were able to get a $25,000 loan to make the trip on an air ambulance, Mauak said.

She said the parents are grateful for the generous donations, “;without which this would never have been possible.”;

Strauch, a yoga teacher, was admitted to Hilo Medical Center on Dec. 8. She and a friend, Zsolt Halda, contracted the disease spread by eating vegetables containing larvae of a slug that carries the rat lungworm.

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Most people fully recover, but some experience complications, including paralysis, blindness and death, health officials say.

Before leaving Hawaii, Strauch had recovered enough to be aware of the people around her and was able to move her hands and legs.

“;She is conscious. She understands completely,”; Mauak said.

Halda is recovering at home on the Big Island and hopes to visit Strauch during her recovery in Germany.

Meanwhile, he is building a house so that Strauch will have a place to live when she returns to Hawaii, Mauak said.