The Giant African Snail continues to integrate itself into the Antiguan ecosystem, spreading most recently to the area of Burma, where a quarantine is being planned. According to Caribarena Antigua, the creature is believed to have migrated to the new location via scrap metal operations. The snail has been labeled as an agricultural pest for some time and it has been on the list of Caribbean Invasive Alien Species Network (CIASNET).
Well-known agriculturalist George Purcell said he had not yet heard any complaints from the farming community in the Burma area. Reports indicate that the snail population in Burma is still relatively small, having only been there for about a month, and attempts are underway to contain it. Purcell pointed out that the pest is also known to plague St Lucia, having been there for years before arriving in Antigua & Barbuda.
According to CIASNET, the giant African snail (Achatina fulica) is a tropical species native to East Africa. Typically about 1 cm tall, it can grow as large as 20 cm and weigh as much as a kilogram. They are hermaphrodite—having both male and female sex organs—and away from their natural enemies, after a single mating, can lay up to 1,200 eggs in a year. They are now widely distributed in southern and eastern Asia, as well as many islands of the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. The snail has, in many cases, been deliberately introduced for food, medicinal use, or as an ornamental species. They are capable of surviving adverse conditions.
Giant African snails are already present in several Caribbean countries. In terms of environmental impact, the snails feed on indigenous vegetation and pose a conservation problem by altering habitat and out-competing other snails for food. For agriculture, they have become a destructive pest of crops and garden plants. To humans, they are vectors for disease, such as, Eosinophilic meningitis, caused by the parasite rat lungworm that is passed to humans through eating raw or improperly cooked snails. [Also see previous post US Authorities seek to stop invasion by giant snails.]
Additional information from http://www.ciasnet.org/2010/08/07/giant-african-snail/, http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/life-a-style/food-a-drink/11240-giant-african-snails-antiguas-sealed-parachute.html and http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?p=48631