- In 2010 Sydney rugby player Sam Ballard swallowed a slug at a friend’s party
- Ballard fell ill and was told by doctors he had been infected with rat lungworm
A rugby player from Australia who ate a garden slug as part of a simple dare from friends led to a parasitic infection that caused a serious brain disease; leaving the teen paralyzed from the neck down.
According to Live Science, Sam Ballard was 19 years old in 2010 when he swallowed the slug, which was carrying the roundworm parasite, commonly known as the rat lungworm.
As adults, these parasites typically infect rats, but during the earlier stages of their life cycle, they may be carried by slugs and snails that eat rat feces — and they can infect people who consume infected snails or slugs that are under cooked.
Sam swallowed the creature but the then 19-year-old boy from Sydney quickly fell ill.
He was taken to hospital where doctors told him he had been infected with rat lungworm.
Sam’s mother maintained a positive attitude and in late November 2011, posted her hopes on Facebook that Sam would “walk and talk again” and still had the same cheeky attitude.
Now aged 28, Ballard suffers seizures and cannot control his body temperature, local media reported.