Experts and medical staff have urged residents across southern China’s Guangdong province to keep away from big snails that have been appearing in their housing estates after recent rainfall.
The snails contain bacteria and viruses that could spread tuberculosis and even deadly meningitis to people who have frequent contact with them, said Xie Sheng, a senior doctor with the emergency centre at the Boluo branch of Huizhou Central Hospital in eastern Guangdong.
Guo Qiang, a staff member at the Shenzhen Conservation Office of Wild Animals and Plants, said the big snail was of African origin and was one of the first group of invasive species in the mainland.
“The snail can grow as long as 20 centimeters and breeds rapidly,” Guo said.
He added that the snails, which usually appear on lawns, trees, flowers, vegetable fields, walls and floors, can damage plants and other crops.
“They usually contain Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasitic nematode that may pass on meningitis and encephalitis to people who have frequent contact with them,” Guo said.
The snails appear during rainy weather and at night, and have been spotted in the provincial capital Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou and other cities in the Pearl River Delta that have experienced heavy rainfall recently, he added.
Zhang Cuilan, a Guangzhou housewife, said she had seen a growing number of big snails in her housing estate in the city’s Huangpu district in recent days.
“And some kids were also seen playing with the snails on their lawns,” she said.
Xie said, “Local residents should not raise them at home as pets for their children or bring them home to cook.”
According to a local media report, a girl was recently diagnosed with a high fever of 40 C after coming into contact with big snails at a Shenzhen housing estate. Whether the girl’s fever was caused by the snails is still being investigated, a local medical expert said.
Xie urged residents to seek help from property management companies and pest control services if they found a large number of big snails in their housing estates.Experts, Guangdong, snails, warn