Giant African Land Snails: Do They Carry Human Meningitis?

giant African land snail
None of the snails tested in Florida are carrying the disease.
TAMPA (2011-11-4) -

Does the giant African land snail "carry human meningitis," as Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam recently said? PolitiFact rates that claim "Half True."

On CBS Sunday Morning, Putnam talked about the huge snail, which can grow as large as a small dog and eats stucco off houses.

"With something like the snails we've got the trifecta," Putnam said. "It carries human meningitis, so people are concerned. It eats 500 different plants, so agriculture's concerned. And it eats houses, so homeowners are very concerned."

PolitiFact Florida's Aaron Sharockman says that in theory, the snail could spread meningitis to humans.

But none of the snails tested in Florida are carrying the disease. And to get it, one would have to eat the snails raw or rub snail slime all over their bodies.

He said two kids in Louisiana ate the snails raw on a dare, but avoided getting the disease.

"America's youth, don't do dares. Don't eat the snails!" Sharockman advises.

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