Giant African snail, the invasive mollusk that spits out parasites and could infect humans

  • It is essential to wash your hands very well and disinfect the surfaces that the invertebrate has touched.

Around the planet there are countless beautiful and important animal species that manage to maintain an ecological balance, however, there are others that, when introduced to a different ecosystem, can cause major problems and become a pest.

This is exactly what happens with the giant African snail (Achatina fulica), a huge mollusk native to Africa that has countless characteristics beyond its size, and this creature is a beautiful species, with a brown shell and light stripes, which can measure 30 centimeters.

This snail is active at night and sleeps during the day after burrowing into the ground. Like all snails that have a shell, it uses it as a protective shield. The brown tones of the shell also help it camouflage itself.

Why is it dangerous?
Despite being very attractive to collectors, this invertebrate should be treated with caution, as it is considered one of the hundred most harmful invasive exotic species in the world, as it is capable of displacing populations of endemic snails and being a potential predator of native flora. .

The risk of this mollusk lies in the fact that collectors have transported it to different parts of the world, although it has also been dispersed involuntarily, as it easily adheres to vehicles, plants, surfaces and crop boxes.

Furthermore, their hermaphrodite condition encourages their reproduction at high speed, because they can have five or six clutches during the reproductive season, on average, with 100 eggs each.

And although its appearance is harmless, despite its size, and it never stops growing, the giant African snail also represents a risk to human health as it is a host for parasites that live in its slime.

The secretions of this invertebrate contain lethal parasites, one of them, the rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), which can affect the human central nervous system and cause meningitis, as well as other diseases that can be lethal to humans.

The larvae of this worm, which this mollusk spreads, can infect people through common practices such as putting your hands in your mouth after coming into contact with its slime, or by ingesting fruits and vegetables contaminated by its secretion.

How to avoid being infected by the parasites that the mollusk spits out?
According to specialists, if you come across one it is necessary to avoid touching them directly. Contact must be made with disposable gloves to avoid coming into contact with snail slime.