Garden Slug Causes Death After 8 Years of Paralysis

I’m sure you’ve heard of or have been exposed to some of the crazy pranks and dares that college kids are prone to do.  Some of those pranks involve eating or drinking something that is downright disgusting.

In fact, I remember when a friend of mine drank a glass of water that had been sitting in a window ledge, that contained live mosquito larvae.  Thankfully, he didn’t end up like the guy in our story.

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A College Prank Gone Bad

Back in 2010, Sam Ballard, a teenage Australian rugby player, was dared to swallow a live garden slug.  It ended up changing Ballard’s life forever in a way that no one could have ever expected from a simple dare.

He ended up suffering significant brain damage, that led to him becoming paralyzed for an entire eight years.  He at first developed leg pains and sought care at a hospital for persistent spells of vomiting and dizziness.

This led to Ballard falling into a coma that lasted for 420 days, and when he awoke, he wasn’t able to properly communicate and was paralyzed from the neck down.  He later died at a hospital in Sydney on Nov 2, 2018, at the young age of 28 years old.

Could It Happen to You?

So, how could a mere garden slug cause so much damage to a human brain?  It was determined that the slug he swallowed had picked up “rat lungworm”, otherwise known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, after an encounter with rat droppings.

Typically, infections caused by a rat lungworm infection can get better when treated, but in some cases, as mentioned here in our story, serious complications can result.  This is because rat lungworm infections can lead to bacterial meningitis, which can cause severe disruption to your nervous system, and can eventually cause death.

You might think the best way to avoid having this happen to you is to simply not eat garden slugs, but you should also avoid exposure to land crabs, freshwater shrimp, snails, frogs, and other undercooked slugs.  You should also be very careful to wash any fruits or vegetables that may have come in contact with snails or slugs.