BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – President Barack Obama has a case of Hawaiian parasites? That is what the National Enquirer says is the cause of Barack Obama’s dramatic weight loss. The January 19 story, which has gone viral on the Internet, claims Obama picked up the parasites last year while vacationing in Hawaii.
“The pencil-thin president caught the parasites on a trip last year to Hawaii, where he and his family also vacationed over Christmas, according to top political insiders. ’Barack has wanted to keep the stomach parasites under the radar,” revealed a close source,’” the story reads.
“There had been a public health warning about them in Hawaii when he caught them,” the source adds.
Disputing the claim is a Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson.
DOH’s Janice Okubo says there was no warning issued about parasites on the island of Oahu, which is where Obama and his family stayed over the last three Christmas holiday vacations.
She acknowledges there was a warning issued in January 2009 about angiostrongylus, or Rat Lung Worm, on a different island. That was the island of Hawaii, where a suspected 6 people contracted Rat Lung Worm after eating unwashed organic produce.
“The condition is referred to as “rat lung worm” because rats are part of the life cycle of the parasite,” says Okubo.
Found in snails, slugs, and freshwater prawns, crabs fish, and possibly the flatworm in Hawaii, the parasite can lead to serious illness, Okubo reports.
However, even if Obama was one of the few who somehow contracted that parasite, Okubo says it would not cause him to lose weight. Instead, it would impact his nervous system.
“Signs of rat lung worm disease can include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, and other problems related to the brain and spinal cord,” says Okubo, adding most patients recover from the infection without treatment.
The parasite is not contracted from shave ice, even though Obama is pictured eating a shave ice from Kailua’s Island Snow in the story about him contracting parasites.
So if the “parasites in Hawaii” story is unfounded, why the big splash about the “skinny” president and the first lady’s “fears” that he is about to collapse as he “wastes away”?
Some people here suspect that tourism or government officials aiming to redirect tourists from the islands to a competing destination may have started the rumor.
After all, if the American President who stayed in a Winter Whitehouse on Kailua beach that rents for $35,000 a month, who has his own chef, and who traveled aboard the luxurious Air Force One, contracts parasites, what will the average Hawaii traveler experience?
On the other hand, some suggest that coming to paradise and getting “skinny” may appeal to some Americans and ultimately boost tourism.