Giant African snails captured by Louisville border agents

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists intercepted two live giant African snails at the Louisville Port of Entry on May 18, after they were found at an express consignment facility during the inspection of a parcel arriving from Germany.

While intended for direct consumption, according to the CBP that species of snail poses significant health risks to humans and the environment and are considered by the federal government to be an invasive species.  The snails were seized for further analysis.

“Our nation’s food supply is constantly at risk from pests and diseases not known to occur in the United States.  These significant interceptions by our CBP agriculture specialists at the Louisville Port of Entry exemplify CBP’s continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office.

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, giant African snails can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans.  In addition, due to an appetite that includes at least 500 different types of plants, along with such things as plaster and stucco, they can cause significant damage to structures and ecosystems.  They are considered a prohibited organism in the United States, though they are popular for consumption and even kept as pets in other countries.

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“CBP’s agriculture specialists mitigate the threat of non-native pests, diseases, and contaminants entering the United States,” said Thomas Mahn, Port Director, Louisville.  “CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspections, inspecting tens of thousands of international passengers and cargo shipments at our air, land and sea ports of entry.”

Travelers are encouraged by the CBP to learn more about current regulation, which include a lengthy list of prohibited and restricted items, before attempting to bring food or other items into the United States; in order to avoid penalties, seizures, and even arrest.