Kottayam villages plagued by African snails: Precautions to take

Make sure to drink boiled and cooled water as snails are spotted in the wells and other water sources. File Photo

Kurichi: The giant African snail menace has left the villagers in many parts of Kottayam in despair. Their presence has significantly increased in Chiravam Muttam and nearby places lately. The snails take over the region as soon as night falls and are mostly seen in houses close to the paddy fields. People of the locality are worried that their source of drinking water may be jeopardized as African snails are often spotted in the wells too. In case someone accidentally touches the snail, their skin begins to burn and they experience severe itching. Many studies show that African snails could cause meningitis in children.

Giant African snails have hard shells and can grow as big as your fist. Farmers say that the snails are a threat to cultivation as they destroy plantains, tapioca and papaya by eating away their green leaves. Trees, sheds and bathrooms have all become the habitat of African snails. Veterinary doctors warn against touching the snails without wearing gloves. Snail secretions should not come into contact with the human body as they may cause severe skin irritation and other health problems. Vegetables should be washed thoroughly using clean water to scrub away snail secretions or droppings. Make sure to drink boiled and cooled water as snails are spotted in the wells and other water sources.

Medical experts suggest the following precautions to stay safe from African snail attacks:
1) Sprinkling tobacco and copper sulphate solution is the best way to keep away snails.
2) Sprinkle this solution along with salt as soon as you spot the snails in the vicinity of your house.
3) Do not discard organic waste as heaps. The thickets that trap moisture should be cleared at regular intervals.
4) The surface soil should be moved after the monsoon. 

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