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Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich

An emerging snail in the Caribbean which poses a threat to both agriculture and human health

IDENTITY
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Name: Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich
Taxonomic Position:
Animalia: Mollusca: Gastropoda: Stylommatophora: Achatinidae
Common Names: Giant African Snail

Significance:

The Giant African Snail (GAS), Achatina fulica, is one of the most serious terrestrial snail pests known and is emerging in the Caribbean Basin. Achatina fulica has been reported in Guadeloupe and Martinique since the late 1980s, and was identified in Saint Lucia and Barbados in 2000.

This severe agricultural pest is also known to be a vector of several human health pathogens of concern and requires special handling when intercepted.

Issues of Concern: Like many snails, A. fulica multiplies prodigiously and can establish large populations in a relatively short time. Once established, eradication is not easily achieved. Aside from the risk to plants and agriculture, numerous diseases are associated with these mollusks. There is increasing concern over the potential exposure of inspection personnel to infected mollusks during routine inspections. This species is known to be a vector of parasitic rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which causes eosinophilic meningitis in humans. It is also a vector of a gram-negative bacterium, Aeromonas hydrophila, which causes a wide range of symptoms, particularly in persons on immunosuppressant drugs. Please see the attached notice concerning public health concerns.

Achatina fulica is normally diurnal, or active at night, unless the daytime is very wet. Also, this mollusk is capable of undergoing long periods of dormancy to survive adverse conditions such as cold weather or lack of food.

Hosts: In its native range, A. fulica is a scavenger found on decayed vegetation, animal matter, lichens, algae and fungi. As an introduced pest it has been found on members of the Cruciferae, Curcurbitaceae and Leguminosae plant families; citrus species; several varieties of ornamentals; and the bark of a few larger tree species.

Distribution:
Africa; Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines); Pacific Region (Bougainville, New Caledonia, Futuna, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, American Somoa, Samoa, Tahiti, Vanuatu, and Wallis); Caribbean (Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia); South America (Brazil); United States (Hawaii)

Detection Strategies
This snail can be attached to shipping containers (interior and exterior surfaces), plant material, crates and machinery. The eggs may also be introduced by movement of infested soil. These snails are kept as pets and may be shipped as eggs by hobbyists. DO NOT pick this snail up with bare hands due to the potential health hazard. In addition, the shells are valued by collectors; during estivation (physiological slowdown) snails may lose enough water weight to be mistaken as empty. See the document below for tips on snail collecting strategies.

OTHER INFORMATION:
References:

USDA-APHIS. Plant Pest Information for the Giant African Snail. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gas/index.shtml

USDA-APHIS. Species Profile for the Giant African Snail. National Invasive Species Information Center. http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/africansnail.shtml

 


Warning: The information in this archived item was not confirmed with the appropriate National Plant Protection Organization and is provided solely for informational purposes. Please use this information with caution.

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