Invasion of Giant African Land Snails Puts Florida on Offensive

Environmental News from the United States: 

Hundreds of giant African land snails have turned up on Florida’s Gulf Coast, officials said on Friday, threatening to destroy a vast array of plants and trees, and posing the risk of transmitting a rare type of meningitis to humans.

The snail, native to East Africa, is one of the most damaging in the world, eating at least 500 different types of plants, tree bark, and even paint and stucco on houses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website said.

The gastropod, whose shell can grow to the size of a human fist, often carries a parasite known as rat lungworm that can transmit a type of meningitis whose symptoms include muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, fever, and vomiting.

More than a thousand of the creatures have been collected in the Tampa suburb of New Port Richey in Pasco County, officials said. All of those tested as of Thursday were not carrying the rat lungworm parasite, Greg Hodges, assistant director of the state’s Division of Plant Industry, said at a briefing.

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Source: Reuters

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