Invasive species have continuously impacted developed and developing countries around the world. One of the many impacts of invasive species is the potential for diseases. In the Caribbean, invasive species are known as a threat to biodiversity and their indirect and direct effects on human health as well as the disruption to ecosystems that lead to it.
The invasive plant species water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) for example, can cause changes to an ecosystem, increasing mosquito levels which lead to malaria. The giant African snail (Achatina fulica) is a plant pest that is a known carrier for a parasite called rat lungworm disease, which causes meningitis. Another invasive pest, the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), was introduced into the Caribbean for the purpose of eradicating another invasive species (snakes and rats). This omnivore was introduced to the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts over 150 years ago, it can carry zoonotic pathogens like Rabies.
Due to human transport, climate change and land-use, many invasive species have found vectors to spread and adapt through existing pathways like trade, travel, and tourism.
Currently, Caribbean countries have started to implement stricter plant quarantine protocols to prevent plant pests and diseases. Countries have signed the Ballast Water Management Convention to treat ballast water and prevent invasive aquatic species that can be found through biofouling or bio-invasions and other management measures.
Public awareness has been an ongoing approach by countries, to inform the public about the dangers of invasive species so that they, the public, can better protect themselves and their loved ones.
Read more here below!
CABI – Invasive Species and Human Health
UNEP – Invasive species – a huge threat to human well-being –
FDACS – Giant African Land Snail
NCBI – Parasites of small Indian mongoose
ESA – The spread of invasive species and infectious disease as drivers of ecosystem change