Neighborhoods in south FL forced to quarantine after sightings of giant snails

ByJamiel Lynch, CNNWire
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Giant African land snails send south FL neighborhoods into quarantine
The snails pose a significant health risk to humans because they carry a parasite that can cause meningitis.

BROWARD COUNTY, Florida -- Some neighborhoods in Broward County in Florida are under quarantine Tuesday after sightings of invasive giant African land snails, known to be one of the most dangerous species, officials said.

The quarantine, announced Tuesday, was established after snails were detected earlier this month in the Miramar area of the county, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a news release on Tuesday.

Essentially, the quarantine means it is illegal to move a giant African land snail or plants, which includes soil, compost, and yard waste, in or out of the area without a compliance agreement from the agriculture department.

State officials established two treatment areas within the quarantine zone, a map released by the department shows.

The state agriculture department plans to use the same treatment methodology, which is metaldehyde-based molluscicide, a type of snail bait approved for residential use, according to the news release.

Last year, the New Port Richey area of Pasco County was placed under quarantine after the snails were detected.

Giant African land snails eat at least 500 different types of plants, and they can also chomp through stucco, plastic recycling bins and even signs. Their calcium shells bear pointy edges sharp enough to blow out tires of vehicles that run over them.

"These snails could be devastating to Florida agriculture and natural areas as they cause extensive damage to tropical and subtropical environments," the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

The snails also pose a health risk to humans because they carry a parasite called rat lungworm, which can cause meningitis, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The condition leads to swelling of membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

CNN contributed to this report.