Control of Schistosome-Transmitting Snails in Kenya by the North American Crayfish Procambarus clarkii

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  • Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kenya
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Snail-transmitted trematode parasites such as schistosomes and liver flukes assume considerable medical and veterinary significance in tropical Africa. We have observed a strong negative association between the presence of medically important pulmonate snails and the crayfish Procambarus clarkii in freshwater habitats in Kenya. This crayfish, introduced into Kenya around 1970, readily consumes these snails in the laboratory. Field enclosure experiments indicate that crayfish exert a significant negative impact on the abundance of Biomphalaria pfeifferi, the intermediate host of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni. It is likely that P. clarkii will continue to spread naturally in Kenya and that schistosome-transmitting snails will be excluded or reduced in numbers where crayfish are present. Procambarus clarkii may represent an alternative, biological means of snail control in East Africa.