Over the last couple of weeks, a concerning number of snails have been spotted in the town of New Port Richey, Florida. Specifically, giant African Land snails, a well-known invasive species of snail. Because of this, the town was quarantined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. To clarify, this is not a health-based quarantine like we’ve come to know with COVID-19, but rather a land-based quarantine. Residents of the town are prohibited from transporting any plants, soil, yard waste, debris, compost, or building materials outside of the town’s perimeter, as any of them could contain more snails.
So what’s the problem with the giant African land snail? The snail itself isn’t directly dangerous to humans, but it does bring with it two major concerns: agricultural damage and transmissible diseases. Even regular snails are highly-hazardous to agriculture, eating grass and plants in large quantities. Giant African land snails in particular can grow to the size of an adult rat, which means their consumption is even greater. As for diseases, giant African land snails are regular carriers of rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.
Giant snails that can grow to the size of a rat have forced a town in Florida into lockdown over meningitis fears ??
Let’s look into it ? https://t.co/YkoX89NrEN
— Metro (@MetroUK) July 5, 2022
“The giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world and consumes at least 500 different types of plants,” the FDACS said in a statement.
The Agriculture Department is currently working to locate, contain, and eliminate the snails. Any property owners whose land needs to be treated with pesticide will be given a 24-hour notice.