USDA investigates giant snails

Giant African snails reportedly found in Houston

HOUSTON - The United States Department of Agriculture launched an investigation into a giant African snail reportedly found in Harris County.

The snails can carry a parasite called rat lungworm, a form of meningitis.

"Unfortunately, humans are picking the snails up," said Dr. Autumn J. Smith-Herron, the director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University. "They carry a parasitic disease that can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death."

The institute is investigating whether a snail found at a home in west Houston was indeed a giant African snail.

After Local 2's story Monday night about the snails, viewers reported seeing them across the Houston area.

Rebekka Fincher posted to Local 2's Facebook page, saying: "I think I found one this weekend in my subdivision in Katy."

Stephanie Bergstrom reported seeing them at Cullinan Park in Sugar Land last week.

The USDA believes the snail found in west Houston is a Rosy Wolf Snail, a harmless snail native to Texas. The department is sending a team to Houston to investigate but told Local 2 to confirm that the snails aren't a giant African snail.

If you think you've spotted one, call the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at 936-294-3788. For more information, you can also visit their website.

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