A Dangerous Return of Giant Snails that Can Cause Meningoencephalitis Triggers Fear in Florida

Florida’s war against giant African snails is not over!

It’s been about 50 years since the state’s first battle against the invasive species, but the gigantic mollusks which can grow up to 8 inches keep coming back again and again and again.

Photo: YouTube/The Weather Network

Giant African land snails, Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica, are among the most destructive snails in the world. They feed on more than 500 kinds of plants, mostly agricultural crops.

They transmit diseases to plants, animals, and even humans due to the rat lungworms they carry. These parasites cause Meningoencephalitis in people, an inflammation of the brain and the meninges or layers of membrane that protect it.

Photo: YouTube/The Weather Network

The common symptoms of Meningoencephalitis are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in thinking clearly
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal behaviors
  • Personality changes
  • Seizures
  • Focal neural deficit
  • Loss of consciousness

Florida officials are warning the public not to touch anything that may have come in contact with these dangerous snails.

Photo: YouTube/The Weather Network

The African Giant Snail species was first brought to south Florida by a boy in 1966, who smuggled three of them from Hawaii. The boy’s grandmother discovered the snails and set them free in her garden. In just 7 years, the three snails became 18,000, with eggs scattered in various locations in Florida.

During the first invasion, it took Florida 10 years, at a cost of $1 million, to eradicate the problem, which recurred in 2011. They were able to eliminate it again in 2021, at a cost of $24 million.

Yet the snails were able to come back once more. Learn more below.

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