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    Last Friday, officials said hundreds of giant African land snails turned up on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The species threatens to destroy a vast amount of plants and trees. They even pose the risk of transmitting a rare type of meningitis to humans. 

    The snail is native to East Africa and is considered one of the most damaging species in the world. They eat at least 500 different types of plants, tree bark, and even paint and stucco on houses. The shell of the snail can grow to the size of a human fist and it often carries a parasite known as rat lungworm. 

    That parasite can transmit a type of meningitis whose symptoms include muscle aches, headaches, stiff neck, fever, and vomiting. Over a thousand of the creatures have already been collected in the Tampa suburb of New Port Richey in Pasco County. All of the snails collected were tested for the parasite and were all negative. 

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