Nonindigenous apple snails, Pomacea maculata (formerly Pomacea insularum), are currently spreading rapidly through the southeastern United States. This mollusk serves as an intermediate host of the rat lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), which can cause eosinophilic meningitis in humans who consume infected mollusks. A PCR-based detection assay was used to test nonindigenous apple snails for the rat lungworm parasite in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida. Only apple snails obtained from the New Orleans, Louisiana, area tested positive for the parasite. These results provide the first evidence that Angiostrongylus cantonensis does occur in nonindigenous apple snails in the southeastern United States. Additionally, Angiostrongylus cantonensis was identified in the terrestrial species Achatina fulica in Miami, Florida, indicating that rat lungworm is now established in Florida as well as Louisiana. Although the study suggests that the rat lungworm is not widespread in the Gulf States region, the infected snail population could still pose a risk to human health and facilitate the spread of the parasite to new areas.
Additional publication details
The occurrence of the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, in nonindigenous snails in the Gulf of Mexico region of the United States
Hawai'i Journal of Medicine & Public Health
University Clinical, Education & Research Associates (UCERA)