Health Alert In Tenerife After Giant African Snails Capable Of Transmitting Meningitis Detected

Image of a giant African snail.

Image of a giant African snail. Credit: Charles J. Sharp/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

A health alert was issued on the Canary Island of Tenerife this Friday, July 21, after the detection of giant African snails that can transmit meningitis.

The Network for the Detection and Intervention of Invasive Alien Species in the Canary Islands (RedEXOS) warned of the presence of giant African snails (Lissachatina fulica) in Tenerife.

In a tweet, the Canarian government department wrote: ‘First detection in the Canary Islands (TF) of this dangerous invasive species. It can transmit a form of meningitis and attacks our main crops as well as many wild plants. If you see it, don’t touch it and let us know right away by calling: 646 601 457, @EcologicaGobCan’.

It is a dangerous invasive alien species since, in addition to having the capacity to transmit a form of meningitis, it also represents a risk to agriculture and the ecosystem.

This species can grow to lengths of up to 30 cm, although there is also the possibility of finding smaller specimens. Its shell is cone-shaped and includes brown or yellowish veins. In addition, it usually presents a lighter or white colouration towards the end of the shell.

Members of the public must not touch these snails

RedEXOS warned the island’s population that in the event of finding a specimen of this species, it should not be touched due to the health risk involved.

They stressed that it is not necessary to consume the creature to become infected. It is enough to simply touch it and then put your hands to your mouth.

Humans can also become infected by eating raw or undercooked vegetables contaminated with the animal’s secretions. For this reason, they warned that in case of finding one of these snails, members of the public should call the following telephone number: 646 601 457.

38 giant snails were confiscated at Bilbao Airport

In a similar instance, Guardia Civil officers on duty at Bilbao Airport last March discovered and confiscated 38 live giant African snails. They were hidden in the checked-in luggage of a passenger from Nigeria who was heading to Paris. Each snail was around 10 cm in length and weighed about 5.3 kg in total.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at