An Unwanted Foe Resurfaces in Florida

Giant African land snail is spotted in Pasco County, part of which is now under quarantine
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2022 2:05 PM CDT
An Unwanted Foe Resurfaces in Florida
This undated photo provided shows a giant African land snail.   (AP Photo/Scott Burton)

(Newser) – The state of Florida fought long and hard to eradicate the invasive giant African land snail from the southern part of the state. Now, however, the fist-sized pest—one that carries a risk of meningitis for humans—has surfaced elsewhere, reports the Tampa Bay Times. State wildlife officials confirmed a sighting last month in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County, which is on the west coast in the central part of the state. It's the first time the snail has been found outside of South Florida, notes the New York Times. Just last year, the state declared the snail to be eradicated from the southern region, after spending about $24 million over the last decade on the mission, per the Tampa newspaper.

The voracious snails can rip through gardens in no time, breed quickly, and carry a parasite called rat lungworm that can cause meningitis and other serious ailments in humans. That's why a state fact sheet on the snail has an all-caps warning: "DO NOT HANDLE SNAILS WITHOUT WEARING GLOVES!" The Pasco County snails are a little different than those that were culled in South Florida, and the new outbreak is believed to have stemmed from the illegal pet trade, a state official tells CNN. The state has imposed a temporary quarantine on the New Port Richey area, meaning yard waste and such is not supposed to be moved out of the area as wildlife officials attempt to trap and kill the snails. (Read more giant African land snail stories.)

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