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Giant African Land Snail Eradication: An Update

September 12, 2014

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Residents must remain vigilant

AdamSnailLlabMediaTour

Commissioner Putnam and Dr. Mary Yong Cong show live GALS specimens to reporters during Miami media tour.

In early September, Core Number 27 was established when inspectors responded to a citizen’s call to the Helpline and found about 2,000 snails. Then, on September 9

After three years, Commissioner Adam H. Putnam says that, with the public’s help, Florida is winning the war against the giant African land snail, despite concerns over find outside of Miami-Dade County

An unprecedented and continuing effort by state and federal agricultural officials has resulted in a steady decline in the numbers of giant African land snails (GALS) in Florida since the invasive snails were detected in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods in September 2011. Teams from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have collected thousands of the mollusks – more than 141,000 to date.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam led a media tour on September 9, marking the beginning of the fourth year of the eradication effort. He said teams had been finding fewer snails in the 26 established core areas, and because they are using a stronger molluscicide, most of the ones they had found were dead.

Why Florida , a worker at a property in Davie, Broward County alerted the homeowner to a possible GALS infestation. The worker knew of the GALS because of program outreach. After the homeowner called the FDACS Helpline, 1-888-397-1517, a response team, which included a detector dog, confirmed the specimens were indeed GALS. It was the first detection of the invasive snails in Florida outside of Miami-Dade County.

“We are very concerned about locating Giant African Land Snails outside of the core areas of Miami-Dade County. This find underscores the importance of the role of South Florida residents to help us successfully eradicate these snails,” said Commissioner Putnam. “We also appreciate the quick action of the individual who called in the report once he realized the major threat these snails are to agriculture, the environment and human and animal health.”

A threat to health, crops, landscapes and property

The giant African land snail can grow to be up to eight inches long.

The giant African land snail can grow to be up to eight inches long.

Giant African land snails can grow to be eight inches long and pose a serious threat to landscapes, crops, buildings and human and animal health. They attack more than 500 plant species and damage structures by consuming stucco to obtain the calcium they need to build their shells.

Scientists from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry have confirmed some of the captured snails carry the rat lungworm parasite, which can cause a form of meningitis in humans and animals. Fortunately, no meningitis cases in Miami have been traced to the snail so far.

When dealing with suspected GALS, be safe — Follow these rules

No one should handle any snail or slug without gloves. Everyone should remember to wash hands and fresh produce. A good general rule is to avoid eating raw or undercooked snails, frogs or shrimp/prawns. Report all GALS suspects to the Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. Never move suspect GALS off-property, handle or consume them and don’t move plant material from properties in core areas where the snail has been found.

Public support is crucial

Officials attribute the success of the program to date to residents’ continued vigilance and cooperation with the inspectors. Homeowners continue to call the Helpline when they see suspected giant African land snails and have demonstrated further cooperation by allowing inspectors to access their properties for continued survey and control efforts.

“Look for Them! Report Them!” 

The public outreach campaign will continue to spread the word to Miami-Dade and Broward county residents about the snail, using billboards, bus benches, radio, television and social media. Members of the team are also reaching out to the public through personal contact, presentations to community organizations and other events.

For more information about the program, go to http://www.freshfromflorida.com/GALS

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