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Home  >  News
Giant African Snail Advisory
Friday, August 14, 2009



JOINT PRESS RELEASE

GIANT AFRICAN SNAIL ADVISORY

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. August 14, 2009. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, wish to advise the public on a new pest present in Trinidad and Tobago that poses a threat to plants and may pose a health risk to humans.

Background Information

The giant African snail, Achatina fulica, was first found in Trinidad late last year in Petit Valley. Since then, an eradication programme for the giant African snail led by the Research Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources has been initiated in Petit Valley. However, this invasive alien species has since spread to other communities in Diego Martin-Blue Range and Goodwood Park.

The giant African snail is an invasive alien species, which is a host for Anigiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm, which causes eosinophilic meningitis in human beings.

The rat lungworm Anigiostrongylus cantonensis has been reported in the Caribbean in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Its status in Barbados and St. Lucia where the giant African snail is also present is currently being researched.

Description

The giant African snail’s shell can grow up to 20 cm in length and 12 cm in diameter. It is reddish brown to brown with cream to yellow vertical stripes.

The giant African snail is nocturnal, but may become active at dawn and dusk if it is very wet. They prefer damp, shady places and avoid direct sunlight. In the day they are commonly found under bricks, rocks, fallen logs, plant mats, decaying leaves, wall ledges, houses, air conditioners, or discarded containers; and in or on plants, trees, heavy vegetation, brick holes, crevices.

Citizens are urged to report any sightings of the giant African snail to the Ministry Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources’ Hotline at 646-6284.

Threat to Plants

The snail feeds on over 500 plant types. It is highly destructive to:

v Vegetable crops

v Food crops

v Fruit trees

v Forest trees

v Flowers and ornamentals

Threat to Humans

As explained above, the snail is a vector of the rat lungworm, which causes eosinophillic meningitis in humans.

Therefore, citizens are urged to exercise caution so as to avoid contracting the parasite. The parasite can be contracted by:

n eating improperly cooked snail meat

n handling live snails and transferring snail mucus (slime) to eyes, nose and mouth.

n eating food (salad greens) contaminated by snail slime or containing minute snails

n eating raw paratenic hosts (freshwater shrimp, land crabs, frogs) that have eaten infected mollusks

The main symptom of eosinophillic meningitis is severe headache.

Frequent symptoms during the early stage of disease are:

§ Nausea,

§ vomiting, and

§ moderate stiffness of the neck and/or back.

Citizens who display the above symptoms and believe they may have contracted the parasite are urged to visit their doctor or the nearest health facility.


Downloads: Medical Practitioner Resources for Eosinophilic Meningitis









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