The rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) is a parasitic nematode that causes rat lungworm disease. It is the leading cause of eosinophilic meningitis and is a zoonotic health risk. We confirmed the presence of A. cantonensis using species-specific, quantitative PCR in 18 of 50 (36%) giant African land snails (Lissachatina fulica) collected from Miami, Florida, US in May 2013. These snails were collected from seven of 21 core areas that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services monitor weekly. Rat lungworms have not previously been identified in these areas. Duplicate DNA extractions of foot muscle tissue from each snail were tested. Of the seven core areas we examined, six were positive for A. cantonensis and prevalence of infection ranged from 27% to 100%. Of the 18 positive snails, only five were positive in both extractions. Our results confirm an increase in the range and prevalence of rat lungworm infection in Miami. We also emphasize the importance of extracting sufficient host tissue to minimize false negatives.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3