Texans told not to touch African Snails


snailsPeople in a Texas neighborhood may be looking for massive mollusks after a recent sighting of a giant African land snail in one Houston-area garden sparked interest.

However, researchers are warning people to stay away from the supersized slugs as they are dangerous to touch because they have been known to carry meningitis. Anyone coming into contact with the creatures should wash their hands immediately.

Autumn Smith-Herron, director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University (SHSU), told NBC affiliate station KPRC that the slugs may also “carry a parasitic disease [called rat lungworm] that can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death.”

A Briar Forest neighborhood woman found the snail while gardening and, after taking a picture, notified workers at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center who deal with invasive plants. Staff there contacted SHSU researchers.

The sighting is the first confirmed report of the giant mollusk in Texas, and it is currently unclear how the snail got there. Experts, however, believe more could be in the area, due in part to the snail’s ability to lay 100 eggs per month.

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