“New Guinea flatworm” found at many spots in country

A large number of users of the social media have sent their information on and images of the “New Guinea flatworm” to siamensis.org Facebook page from many parts of the country including Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Loei, Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok.

The reports of the spotting of the flatworm happened after the Thailand Biodiversity Conservation Group confirmed on its website siamensis.org that New Guinea flatworms have been found in Thailand.

New Guinea flatworm is native to New Guinea and Northern Australia. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists this species as one of the World’s 100 Worst Invasive Alien Species.

According to Nonn Panitvong, of siamensis.org, one of the group’s members found the flatworm eating a snail in his house in Lam Lukka district of Pathum Thani on Oct 31. It was promptly identified as New Guinea Flatworm by the expert.

On Nov 6, Siamensis posted the report on its website and called on those who come across this species in Thailand to report it at Facebook page of siamensis.org or to Line ID @sde5284v, so that the experts can compile the data for further management plan.

Over the past two days, a large number of netizens have sent information on images of the flatworms they found at various spots in Thailand including Saraphi district of Chiang Mai, Wang Nam Khieo district of Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen University in Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Loei, Sattahip district of Chon Buri and Krungthep Kreetha area of Bangkok.

Facebook user “Songpong Chan” sent 15 images of the flatworms to the siamensis.org, saying they were found at a housing estate in Krungthep Kreetha area in Bangkok and the worms were eating up a snail.

He said  he found about 30 New Guinea flatworms in his premises.

Mr Nonn said images sent to the groups showed different characteristics of the New Guinea flatworms they found.

New Guinea flatworm: The world's 100 worst invasive alien species

To kill the New Guinea flatworm, pour hot water or salt on them. Do not cut them as this will only result in them multiplying even more."To save many species of local snails, this is the action that must be taken seriously," according to biodiversity conservation group siamensis.org. #flatworm #alienspecies #Thailand http://bit.ly/2hXHCrr

Posted by Thai PBS English News on Thursday, 9 November 2017

About New Guinea flatworm (Source: siamensis.org)

  • Native to New Guinea and Northern Australia. This species grows to about 5-6 centimeters in length.
  • The body is uniformly dark brown with a light brown line running along the middle of the back. The underside is white.
  • The flatworm eat snail as its main food but will also eat slug and earth worm when the supply of snail in the area is exhausted.
  • The New Guinea Flatworm has been reported as invasive alien species in many countries, especially those of Pacific island nations.  Apart from Pacific island nations, the flatworm has been reported in France, Florida and Singapore.
  • The occurrence of this species in Thailand is the first report for mainland Asia.
  • There are no known predator or any condition that will control its population growth, so their limiting factor would be the supply of snail, which they can hunt into extinction.
  • This species is hermaphrodite but require two individuals to sexually reproduce.  They can also grow into separate individual if being cut but this is not their natural way of reproduction.
  • New Guinea Flatworm is not only a threat to local snail fauna of Thailand but also a vector of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) a parasitic nematode (Round worm) that normally infected rat but use snails and flatworms as its intermediate host.  Human can be infected by this parasite as well by eating uncooked or undercooked snail, eating fresh vegetable where the snail and flatworm might pass by or drinking contaminated water. This is the most common cause of eosinophilic meningitis, a serious condition that can lead to death or permanent brain and nerve damage.
  • To kill the New Guinea flatworm, pour hot water or salt on them. Do not cut them as this will only result in them multiplying even more. To save many species of local snails, this is the action that must be taken seriously.

Some of the pictures of New Guinea flatworms sent to siamensis.org Facebook page:

Khon Kaen

 

Chantaburi

 

Nakhon Ratchasima