South Florida officials are warning residents of a new creature in the area that could pose a dangerous threat. The creature is a worm and it’s dangerous because it carries a deadly parasite.
Called the “New Guinea flatworm” because of its supposed origin, the worms look similar to slugs. They are about two inches long with a black with a thin orange stripe down the center of their back. Their underbellies are gray.
The invasive worms might look relatively harmless, but they become dangerous when they bite rats and mice, who could then pass the parasite to humans, which could result in a deadly disease. Those affected by the disease could suffer brain and spinal cord damage, possibly even meningitis.
If a person becomes affected by the disease, he or she will be plagued with a horrible cough. “It’s a parasite in your lungs that needs to be treated,” Roy Beckford, an agriculture agent in Lee County, Florida, told WFTX.
Beckford warns anyone who sees one of these worms not to touch it.
“It can actually cause problems on your skin because it actually vomits up this caustic substance than can cause problems,” he said.
While the threat to humans is real, the worms also pose a danger to the ecosystem. Having no natural predators allows them multiply and destroy everything from snails and lizards to vegetation.
“Bear in mind we’re not just talking about trees, we’re talking about shrubs and other plants that grow in our environments here,” Bedford said.
Watch an informative video on the worms video below:
The worms were spotted in Miami in 2015, and have migrated to Cape Coral, where one of the worms was discovered in a flowerpot.
It is believed the worms made their way to Florida with plants, tropical fruits and produce that were shipped from the South Pacific, where they are more common.
WFTX also reported you can kill the worms by pouring boiling water on them.
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H/T Mad World News