Why is the presence of giant African snails in the US alarming?
This exotic species of snail, in addition to being invasive, is among the 100 most harmful in the world, since it can harm up to 500 types of plants due to its incredible voracity. Similarly, it can directly affect the country’s food crops.
Also, the giant African snail represents a threat to humans, because it is host to a nematode called “Angiostrongylus cantonensis”, a parasite that can infect humans and cause eosinophilic meningoencephalitis.
Transmission can occur when a person consumes third-stage larvae of the parasite by putting their hands in their mouth after contact with the snail. It can also be caused by eating raw, poorly cooked or washed vegetable products, which were contaminated by the secretions of the giant African snail.
It has also been shown that contact with the slime of this snail can cause serious intestinal disorders, bronchitis and encephalitis.
What should be done in case of encountering a giant African snail?
Human action is essential to fight against the invasion of this species, so if you find giant African snails in your area, follow these recommendations:
· Do not throw the live snail in the trash, nor in rivers or meadows.
Always avoid direct contact with the snail slime. If this happens, wash the exposed area very well with plenty of soap and water. It is recommended that the snails be picked up wearing gloves, never with bare hands.
· If you get a snail shell destroy it and bury the challenges. Do not let children play with them.
· Try to remove everything from your garden that can be used by snails to take refuges, such as remains of wood, tiles or bricks.
· The authorities indicate that to eliminate the snail, it can be immersed for 24 hours in a solution with salt or lime (the preparation is done using 3 tablespoons per liter of water). After the due time has passed, the remains of the snails should be buried or thrown in the trash, but always in airtight bags.
Alarm in the US over the invasion of the ‘giant snail’, which can cause meningitis
The Secretary of Agriculture of the state of Florida (USA), Nikki Fried, called on Thursday for citizen collaboration to eradicate the giant African land snails, detected last month in areas of this state, because they constitute a risk to human health and the crops.
Fried offered a press conference in which he indicated that two years must pass without the presence of the invasive species, of which nearly 1,000 specimens have already been collected, to officially declare its eradication.
“It is in the hands of people to help eradicate it and we want everyone to be aware of the danger posed” by the giant African snail or Lissachatina fulica, according to its scientific name, Fried said.
The alarms jumped among the local authorities after the discovery last week in the city of New Port Richey, west Florida, of a specimen of the giant African land snail, an invasive species that reproduces with great ease. and can cause meningitis in humans.
FOR THE THIRD TIME IN FLORIDA
This is the third time that the presence of specimens of Lissachatina fulica has been documented in the southeastern US state.
The giant African land snail has been eradicated twice in Florida. The first detection was in 1969 and it was eradicated in 1975.
The most recent eradication of this pest was in 2021 after snails were discovered in 2011 in Miami-Dade County.
Before the recent detection, the last living snail in Florida was collected in Miami-Dade County in December 2017, according to data from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
That agency declared a quarantine in the New Port Richey area last month and launched a pesticide treatment.
“How we can successfully eradicate this plague is by working closely with the affected communities, local agents, and the media,” Fried stressed, after warning the population that it is illegal to import or have these African snails without permission.
Snails are spreading across Florida /GREEN EF
“It is one of the most harmful snails in the world that consumes up to 500 different types of plants, which is why they are a threat to our agriculture and natural areas,” said the official, although she maintained that the situation is under control.
SITUATION UNDER CONTROL
Fried stressed that agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Florida economy and therefore it is vital to protect it from this invasive species, and stressed that these snails represent a serious risk to human health by carrying the lungworm of the rat, causing meningitis.
The officer stressed how dangerous these snails are, which is why she asked citizens not to try by their means to combat their presence, much less eat them.
“We have the best plan to eradicate these snails in the entire country and we are completely sure that we are going to achieve it once again,” he assured.
The University of Florida and the FDACS are the entities that collaborate with the Florida authorities in the eradication of the species.
Fried was also accompanied by officials from the Detector Dog Inspection Program, which has dogs capable of locating these snails and they have already been used successfully since the second plague.
The quarantine order tries to prevent residents from coming into contact with and moving these gastropod mollusks in the wild, some of which can reach up to 20 centimeters in length.