Rapid spread of an invasive snail in South America: the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, in Brasil
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Beginning around 1800, but primarily since the early and mid-twentieth century, the giant African snail, Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich, 1822, has been introduced throughout the tropics and subtropics and has been considered the most important snail pest in these regions. In Brasil, specimens probably brought from Indonesia were introduced into the state of Paraná in the 1980s for commercial purposes (“escargot” farming) that were not successful. Achatina fulica is now widespread in at least 23 out of 26 Brasilian states and the Federal District, including the Amazonian region and natural reserves. Among the reasons for the species’ rapid invasion are its high reproductive capacity and the tendency for people to release the snails into the wild. Achatina fulica occurs in dense populations in urban areas where it is a pest in ornamental gardens, vegetable gardens, and small-scale agriculture. Also of concern is the damage caused to the environment, and potential competition with native terrestrial mollusks. It can also act as an intermediate host of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a nematode that can cause meningoencephalitis in people, and it may be a potential host of A. costaricensis, which causes abdominal angiostrongylosis, a zoonosis that occurs from the southern United States to northern Argentina. Management and control measures for A. fulica are under way in Brasil through a national plan implemented by the Brasilian government.