- US Customs and Border Protection agents seized 15 live giant African land snails from a woman at a Texas airport.
- The snails can grow to be the size of rats and can cause rare forms of meningitis in humans.
- They were found in the traveler's luggage, according to CBP.
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US Customs and Border Protection agents seized more than a dozen live giant African land snails from a traveler at a Texas airport, officials said this week.
Fifteen of the snails - which can grow to be the size of rats and can cause rare forms of meningitis in humans - were discovered inside a woman's luggage in early July by agency agriculture specialists at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Officials said the passenger with the snails was traveling from Nigeria and initially only declared dried beef, but later changed her declaration to include the live snails.
Inside her luggage, the CBP agents found three plastic zip-closed bags containing the snails, along with fresh leaves and about 100g of beef.
The snails, also known as Banana Rasp Snails, are a "potentially serious threat as an invasive species that could negatively affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health or commerce," CBP said.
The creatures, native to West Africa, were ultimately turned over to the US Department of Agriculture for "final disposition."
According to CBP, Banana Rasp Snails are "a vector for Angiostrongylus cantonensis, also known as the rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode (worm) capable of causing rare forms of meningitis in humans."