Rat Lungworm is a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans and animals. Recent studies and reports have confirmed it is spreading throughout the state of Florida and Health officials now fear it is most likely present in other southern states.

Rat Lungworm, which was native to Hawaii and tropical locations, was found in rats and snails from 18 counties around the state of Florida. What’s worse? Studies show it has the ability to survive in other climates as well.

University of Florida researchers call their latest findings “alarming.”

The  UF study, which was published in PLoS ONE, which used samples from many Florida counties including Hillsborough, Orange, Alachua, St. Johns and Leon; all tested positive for the parasite.