Scientists have detected rat lungworm, a parasite known to cause meningitis in humans, in giant African land snails captured in New Port Richey.
State labs in Gainesville found the parasite in snail specimens on July 15, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said in a video release on Tuesday.
Almost 3,000 snails have been collected on 600 inspections since officials identified the intruder on June 23, according to state agriculture officials. The size of the quarantine and treatment area have not increased.
The zone stretches from the northwest corner of the U.S. 19-Ridge Road intersection, east to Little Road and south to Trouble Creek Road.
Fried advised people to not touch, remove or eat the snails, as they pose a serious threat to human and pet health. Anyone who believes they have spotted a giant African land snail is asked to call the state’s helpline at 1-888-397-1517.