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If You See This Creature, Run- It's Been Popping Up All Over The US

If you have an aversion to creepy crawly things, this one will make your skin crawl. Everyone else may find themselves with a bit of the heebie jeebies as well, as there’s a new flatworm making the rounds that could cause some damage - and we’re talking about real damage.

As WPTV shares, the toxic New Guinea flatworm has appeared in the United States.

The nasty-looking worm has appeared in Florida, and it’s gradually making its way through the state. Pest control companies are on the case, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is asking for the public’s help to keep track of the worms progress. Jeannie Tilford of Toad Busters offered up some details about the slimy critter while speaking to WPTV.  

"Thousands of invasive species here. Florida is a great place for things to survive. I am holding two New Guinea flatworms," she said. "They're pretty gross. And they have toxic slime, that if you get it on your skin, it will actually cause an allergic reaction."

Tilford was wearing protective gloves while handling the worms, and she explained how the worm likely made its way to Florida.

"When we get plants from nurseries from Miami, which is a big port of entry, those plants and flatworms come in on the plants, you put the plant in your garden and you've now transplanted an invasive species into your area," she explained.

As Jamie Vasquez, a branch manager with Tropical Pest Control, explains it, the worms can carry diseases.   

“The rats will defecates and snails will eat the feces. And then the flatworm will eat the snails. It's a cycle that repeats within themselves," Vasquez said. "If a rodent infestation occurs in your house, and they chew through the a/c vents in your house, they can defecate in the vents and that can transmit to human also through air particles."

He also explained that the worms can crawl all over fruits and vegetables, and that opens up even more risks.

“If you don't wash them, you can contract meningitis that way." he added.

Tilford urges folks that the only way to properly kill the worm is to pour boiling water on it, and then dispose of its body in a plastic bag.

"You're killing the worm and you're drying it up," she said. "Some people right away want to think, 'Oh let me throw bleach down or poisons on it.' You're adding more things to the ground and if it doesn't have an effect on the worm, it's not going to help."

The FWC also offered up a statement to WPTV in regards to a recent sighting.

"Based on the description and photographs of the species we received, we believe it is a New Guinea flatworm. However, genetic analysis would need to be conducted to confirm the identity of the species," the statement reads.

“While FWC tracks its spread, Florida and Hawaii are so far the only states with the worm. The species is A-sexual, so it doesn't take long to spread fast.”

Source: Your Nation News
Photos: Your Nation News, Project Noah, Inhabitant, WPTV

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