Therrrr Backkkk

This was the heading Harry Lee gave some days ago to his post on the Conch-L site to announce the return of Lissachatina fulica in Florida. Some religious zealot had used these snails to have his disciples swallow their juices, causing that many of them had to go to hospital for treatment.

When the media started to cover this issue, the hype began. See Some people now even think that all land snails are banned because they are harmful to man… One cannot be careful enough in choosing the wording of your press releases.

Today, Harry posted the following re-assuring message:

Transmission of the nematode parasite,/ Angiostrongylus cantonensis/, to
man is rare, and disease (most conspicuously eosinophilic
meningoencephalitis) even rarer. Human infection typically involves*
ingestion* of one (or more) un- or under-cooked snail. The parasite
exercises very little if any selectivity as to which amphibious or
terrestrial snail in infects in the course of its somewhat unusual life
cycle. The prominence of /Achatina fulica/ in human transmission is
essentially a function of its size and human cultural preferences. It is
likely that hundreds of snail species are naturally-infected. Among them
are /Bradybaena similaris <>/ and
subulinids, e.g., <>, which have been
introduced into the SE USA like the Giant African Snail but have spread
widely.  If it were customary for people to consume these little fellows
in areas where the parasite was present, these pulmonates would be the
culprits, and they would qualify for vilification by the Fourth Estate.

Someone, somewhere, once wrote that a person touching the mucus of an
infected snail (e.g., /Achatina fulica/) and then touching his mouth or
another mucous membrane, could allow the infective larva(e) of this
roundworm to infect him. That oft-repeated anecdote is the basis for the
rubber glove caveat. While I don’t advocate slathering uncooked snail
slime on your lips, conjunctivae, etc. in geographic areas when this
parasite occurs, reason indicates that this scenario is rank hyperbole.

A discussion of the medical geography of this parasite and the evolution
of human disease in relation to another host, apple snails, is archived
Comments on the virulence of the disease and its treatment are included.

Anyway, S.O.S. Save Our Snails. Don’t let GAS indirectly threaten native snails.

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