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A deadly snail has been found in Houston, Texas, with authorities warning that it could be deadly to touch the type of snail as it seems to be carrying the deadly meningitis.
The snail found is originally from Africa, and is a species of large land snail that can grow up to eight inches long, and can lay as many as 100 eggs in a month.
According to reports, a Texas woman found one of the large snails in her garden in Houston. The size of the snail shocked the resident and she reported what she had found to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which in fact specializes in exotic plants.
Workers at the center were surprised at the sighting of the giant African snail, as it is the first such sighting in Texas that they had heard of. The find has left many wondering how the snail made its way to Texas, but has also left experts concerned as they know how quickly they can lay dozens of eggs and can reproduce at an amazing speed.
Some media reports have highlighted the statistic of another snail case, in which a boy from Miami brought an African snail into the country in 1996. Within seven years there were more than 18,000 of the giant snails in Florida.
Authorities have been notified of the recent sighting in Texas, and are expecting there to be many more snails found in the coming weeks. They have warned locals to keep their distance and to avoid touching the deadly snails.
Dr. Autumn J. Smith-Herron, the director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University, has told NBC Houston affiliate KPRC, "Unfortunately, humans are picking the snails up. They carry a parasitic disease that can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death."
The parasite is rat lungworm, which is potentially life-threatening. It is in fact a form of meningitis more commonly found in Southeast Asia. However, with the snails – known carriers – turning up in Texas, authorities are concerned locals could become seriously sick if they come into contact with them.
Researchers are now being sent to Houston to investigate and attempt to resolve the issue. Anyone finding one of the snails should not touch it and should instead contact the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at 936-294-3788.
Here is a video of the giant snail: