Researchers have been trying to find ways of getting rid o the destructive and invasive giant African land snail.
A new study revealed that this species of snail is actually more dangerous than previously thought as it carries a rare and extremely dangerous parasite.
According to the scientists, the parasite can cause serious health problems in both humans and animals.
The researchers from the University of Florida said the parasite is a species of rat lungworm that has been found in several species of snails living in the Miami area, including inside the African land snail.
The rat lungworm is a small parasitic worm that has been known to cause fatal diseases in people, dogs, horses and even birds.
The experts are currently analyzing samples from snails across Florida to determine the geographic range of the worm and the species it has infected so far.
The researchers started to go after the snail after an orangutan died in Miami in 2012. The orangutan supposedly died after eating the snails.
After hearing about the animal’s death, the scientists went to where it lived to test the snails. Three of the fives species of snails the researchers analyzed were infected with the rat lungworm parasite.
The species included the Cuban brown snail, the Asian trampsnail and the striate drop.
The scientists say that the snails can cause meningitis in humans only if the snails are eaten.
Dogs and other animals are in danger of contracting the parasite, according to the experts. They suspect that at least a dog died after eating a giant African land snail.
The researchers warn people to keep an eye on their pets, since some of these snails feed on ornamental plants and could live around the house.
The giant African land snail is one of the most dangerous snail in the world because it is known to damage the buildings by consuming the stucco and plaster for the calcium they need for their shells.
The scientists advise people to report any giant African snails by calling a toll-free number which is 888-397-1517. Also, people should be careful when handling the snails and always wear protective gloves.
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