Slug bugged
August 23, 2013 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Consumption of lungworm snails can transmit the lungworm parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which can cause meningitis in humans and respiratory problems in dogs, which can eat afflicted slugs while running through open fields. Researchers at the University of Exeter hooked up LEDs to these snails to study their nighttime movements through gardens and how those movements might help them act as a vector for the parasites.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I got really sick around late '93. I had aseptic meningitis. It was horrible. The worst headache you could ever imagine dipped in fire. It destroyed my ability to see, keep food down, to walk, gave me aphasia (for a short period), and made me resort to asking a friend to borrow a .45. Decades later I still can't figure out if he was a good friend or a terrible one, since he agreed.

Six months of Diamox later and I was right as rain, but that was weeks of hell leading into a period of literal darkness (I was extremely photophobic as well).

In short, when I am not a charitable person, when I need something horrible to wish on an evil person, it's meningitis.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:57 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just in case anyone is wondering if it's worth waiting til the end.

posted by The Whelk at 2:59 PM on August 23, 2013

I was also told you could get this same parasite from turtles, but no idea if that's true. All the same I wash my hands super well after touching any non-mamal.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:00 PM on August 23, 2013

I know someone who ate dirt from the garden when he was a small child, and who also got viral meningitis at that same age.
posted by aniola at 3:07 PM on August 23, 2013

Consumption of lungworm snails can transmit the lungworm parasite...

Yet another thing science has ruined!
posted by DU at 3:10 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our son contracted both bacterial and viral meningitis a couple of days after he was born. Nearly died. But he did not.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:16 PM on August 23, 2013

I wonder if there are any videos showing the movement of the snails after the initial scattering? I'd like to see how a "normal" night of snail activity looks. I can certainly attest to their intrepidity, though. Where I lived there used to be undeveloped land on one side of the road and a row of houses on the other and on rainy days in the AM the road would be covered with snails hiking back over to the wilderness from the gardens across the way. I don't know why they didn't just live in the gardens permanently, but they were definitely heading out to forage overnight and retreating to the open land during the day. It's all stopped, though, now that that land has been developed.
posted by yoink at 4:48 PM on August 23, 2013

I too was disappointed to only see one night of snail movement.
posted by maryr at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes. I wondered if they could hook them up with little GPS devices and track them day and night. I would love to see the resulting computer animation of that data.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:02 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh well, do much for the Lungworm Snail Cleanse.
posted by happyroach at 5:29 PM on August 23, 2013

If they had done two nights you would have seen them make their way into the kitchen and right into the dishwasher.

This was the doorway of my first flat in England. Pretty routinely covered in a dozen or more snails.

I never went outside barefoot into our back garden ever. Snails and slugs are everywhere. I'd like to know what they think a dog owner could realistically do.
posted by srboisvert at 5:54 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Consumption of lungworm snails can transmit the lungworm parasite

I may never stop screaming.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:09 PM on August 23, 2013

I too was disappointed to only see one night of snail movement.

If this interests anyone, this video on the BBC website report 72 hours. It enamored me a bit more because it just shows the lights and the moving snails.

Why stop here...a similar BBC story about the relationship between snails and disease

Related and previously,although this is the low tech version.
posted by Wolfster at 8:28 PM on August 23, 2013

I had a slug problem in a ramshackle house I rented in Japan about 20 years ago. They somehow got into the kitchen. Luckily, Japanese slugs are pretty small.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:05 PM on August 23, 2013

What about consumption of LED snails? That can't be good for you (or your dog) either.
posted by flyingfox at 10:37 PM on August 23, 2013

Interestingly enough, when they did the experiment again while playing loud music, the snails formed themselves into a crowded circular formation around a center camp, licked a nearby toad, and danced all night long.
posted by markkraft at 6:06 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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