US border agents seize...15 larges snails??
15 "large" snails were arrested at the U.S. border and are currently in the custody of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA.)
The BBC reports that a woman arriving from Nigeria was reportedly stopped at a Texas airport after declaring she had dried beef in her luggage. Then, she admitted to having 15 large snails on her person, as well.
In what is probably the most unique seizure by agents, the snails were turned over to the USDA because the creatures are illegal to own without a permit. Basically, they may carry a parasite known to cause meningitis in humans, hence the ban.
The snails are also considered a delicacy from their homeland of West Africa. But, should you handle one infected with a rat lungworm, you are at risk of experiencing an inflamed brain and spinal cord -- which could be deadly. However, most side-effects are stiff neck, nausea and headaches.
The rat lungworm causes about 2,800 meningitis cases a year worldwide.
On the other hand, these snails can also wreck havoc on an ecosystem because these buggers will resort to eating tree bark, paint and stucco on houses if they aren't able to access their normal diet -- which includes at least 500 types of fruits, veggies and plants.
On top of it, these snails are breeding machines -- producing roughly 1,200 eggs every year.
These creatures invaded Florida in the 1960s and the USDA says it took 10 years to eradicate them -- which cost a cool $1 million at the time. Throw the mil into an inflation calculator, and it's worth about $10 million in 2021 terms.
One last thing, those snails are back in Florida -- they resurfaced in 2011 and the state is trying to get rid of them all over again.