Giant African Land Snails invade South Florida

Carry a parasitic worm that can lead to meningitis

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Authorities were searching for some slimy and dangerous intruders in Coral Gables last week.

Giant African Land Snails were rapidly reproducing in Douglas Park area.

"They populate at an incredible rate. Exponential is an understatement, from two to 2,000, that's an exaggeration, but it felt like that," said resident Jason Tesser. "There are hundreds of them in the backyard."

Officials say they can be hazardous.

The snails consume about 500 different kinds of plants, and they can cause damage to plaster and stucco.

They also carry a parasitic worm that can lead to meningitis in humans.

Dr. Vincente Conte says the worms cause a form of meningitis, which right now there is no treatment for.

This species is one of the largest of snails in the world.

They grow up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in width.

Their life span is around nine years.

Authorities are asking anyone who may have seen these snails to call to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 888-397-1517.

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