Scientists consider the giant African land snail (GALS) to be one of the most damaging snails in the world because it is known to consume at least 500 different types of plants. In its native range, Achatina 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. This severe agricultural pest is also known to be a vector of several human health pathogens of concern and requires special handling when intercepted.
The main concern for Hoosier residence is the public health concern surrounding this type of snail. Achatina fulica is reported as an intermediate vector of the Rat Lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, causing eosinophilic meningoencephalitis in humans, as well as a gram-negative bacterium, Aeromonas hydrophila, causing a wide variety of symptoms, especially in persons with compromised immune systems. These diseases can be transferred to humans by eating raw or undercooked infected snail meat or contaminated vegetables. Humans can also be infected by handling live GALS if the snails' secretions contact mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The Giant African Land Snail is an unwanted visitor to the United States. Although it has been traded at flea markets and kept as a pet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has never issued a permit to import the snails. All of the snails in the U.S. are here illegally. A local Wabash County Health Department worker read that the snails would be available at a local flea market. The snails were confiscated and destroyed. As a reaction to the discovery of the snails in Indiana, the DNR, on April 30, 2005 issued a quarantine banning the snails in Indiana.
If these snails are seen, IMMEDIATELY report the information by contacting the following:
United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ)
120 Professional Court, Suite D
Lafayette, Indiana 47905
Phone: (765) 446-0267
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology
402 West Washington Street, Room W290
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2739
The giant African land snail is not known to occur in Indiana.