Miami, Jul 7 The Secretary of Agriculture of the state of Florida, Nikki Fried, called on Thursday for citizen collaboration to eradicate the giant African land snails detected last month in areas of this state, because they constitute a risk to human health and crops.
Fried offered a press conference in which he indicated that two years must pass without the presence of the invasive species being detected, of which nearly 1,000 specimens have already been collected, to officially declare its eradication.
“It is in the hands of the people to help eradicate it and we want everyone to be aware of the danger posed” by the giant African snail or Lissachatina fulica, according to its scientific name, Fried said.
The alarms jumped among the local authorities after the discovery last week in the city of New Port Richey, west Florida, of a specimen of the giant African land snail, an invasive species that reproduces with great ease. and can cause meningitis in humans.
FOR THE THIRD TIME IN FLORIDA
This is the third time that the presence of specimens of Lissachatina fulica has been documented in the southeastern US state.
The giant African land snail has been eradicated twice in Florida. The first detection was in 1969 and it was eradicated in 1975.
The most recent eradication of this pest was in 2021 after snails were discovered in 2011 in Miami-Dade County.
Before the recent detection, the last living snail in Florida was collected in Miami-Dade County in December 2017, according to data from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
That agency declared a quarantine in the New Port Richey area last month and launched a pesticide treatment.
“How we can successfully eradicate this plague is by working closely with the affected communities, local agents and the media,” Fried stressed, after warning the population that it is illegal to import or have these African snails without permission.
“It is one of the most harmful snails in the world that consumes up to 500 different types of plants, which is why they are a threat to our agriculture and natural areas,” said the official, although she maintained that the situation is under control.
SITUATION UNDER CONTROL
Fried stressed that agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Florida economy and therefore it is vital to protect it from this invasive species, and stressed that these snails represent a serious risk to human health by carrying the lungworm of the rat, causing meningitis.
The official stressed how dangerous these snails are, which is why she asked citizens not to try by their means to combat their presence, much less eat them.
“We have the best plan to eradicate these snails in the entire country and we are completely sure that we are going to achieve it once again,” he assured.
The University of Florida and the FDACS are the entities that collaborate with the Florida authorities in the eradication of the species.
Fried was also accompanied by officials from the Detector Dog Inspection Program, which has dogs capable of locating these snails and they have already been used successfully since the second plague.
The quarantine order tries to prevent residents from coming into contact with and moving these mollusks in the wild, some of which can reach up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length. EFE