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Deadly giant African snail found in Houston

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   May 7, 2013 at 10:11 PM

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Authorities are asking Houston residents to be wary of giant African land snails, because they could be carrying a deadly strain of meningitis, NBC News reported Tuesday.

A local woman found one of the large mollusks, which can grow up to eight inches long, in her back yard and took a photo of it.

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

The snails are originally from East Africa and can lay 1,200 eggs a year, which makes them particularly invasive on American soil.

According to a report from the state of Michigan, a Miami boy brought three snails to the country in 1966. There were more than 18,000 of them in Florida seven years later.

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