The Institute of Tropical Medicine Pedro Kouri (IPK) of Cuba warned of the presence in a Havana neighborhood of invasive and exotic species of mollusk known as the African giant snail, which is the main vector of the parasite that causes eosinophilic meningitis in humans, according to a El Espectador report this summer (computer translated).

 giant African snail (GAS) Image/Video Screen Shot
giant African snail (GAS) Image/Video Screen Shot

Officials with the IPK say the existence of Lissachatina fulica has been documented in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.

This mollusk is considered the main vector Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a roundworm parasite that causes a type of meningitis in humans called eosinophilic meningitis.

Angiostrongyliasis is an infection caused by the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This is aparasitic infection in rats where it matures. Mollusks like snails and slugs pick up Angiostrongylus larvae by ingesting them in rat feces.

Infection with this parasite occurs by accidentally or intentionally ingesting raw snails and slugs. Lettuce and other leafy vegetables may also be a source if contaminated by small mollusks. Eating raw or undercooked prawns and crabs that have ingested mollusks may also be a source of infection. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection is usually asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. Symptomsusually appear in 1-3 weeks. The most serious disease is eosinophilic meningitis. The symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin, low-grade fever, nausea, andvomiting. Symptoms may last for weeks to months. The spinal fluid exhibits eosinophilia of over 20%. Deaths are rarely reported.

Prevention of this nematode is by not eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs, cook crabs and prawns to kill the larvae and thoroughly clean lettuce and other produce.