© Depositphotos.com/Eric Isselée
So it seems that the panic was unfounded. That said, the giant African snails have been in other parts of the United States for many years. Information about the snails available on the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species notes:
It looks like the Giant African Snail that was discovered in Houston, Texas, was actually a Rosy Wolf Snail, which is native to North-America (it is considered an invasive species in some places, like Hawaii, but not in Texas).
In 1966, three giant African snails were introduced to Florida (illegally) as pets in a home in Miami. The snails were released into the garden without knowledge of their damage potential. Within a short time of 7 years, 18,000 giant African snails were present in Florida costing the state $1 million in efforts to eradicate the species. The giant African snail has been declared illegal to sell and own as a pet in the United States due to the risks associated with the animal. Confiscations have been made in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois from pet stores that were illegally selling the giant snails as pets. Other snails have been confiscated from schools due to teachers using them as teaching tools without being aware of the potential dangers and illegality of owning the animal.
But the Institute also points out that although the possibility is present the risk of contracting the disease from the snails in the United States is low and no infected snails have so far been confirmed in the United States.
Nevertheless, people should certainly heed warnings not to touch the snails should they encounter any.
Last updated: May 9, 2013
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