Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
February 21, 2024 ·  3 min read

Man Ate a Slug After Being Dared by His Friends Leading to a Tragic End

In 2018, a young man passed away after a dare from his friends turned life-threatening. The initial dare, which was to eat a slug, took place ten years prior, shedding some light on the dangers of parasites associated with slugs.

In 2010, 19-year-old Sam Ballard from Sydney, Australia, was blowing off some steam with his friends. They were enjoying a bottle of wine, when things took a strange turn. “We were sitting, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups and a slug came crawling across,” recalls Sam’s friend Jimmy. “The conversation came, ‘should I eat it?’ [and] off Sam went.”

Deadly Effects of Slugs

Sam Ballard. Source: Facebook

Although in some cases, eating slugs results in nothing more than an upset stomach, that wasn’t the case for Ballard. Sadly, his encounter would leave him with detrimental and life-changing consequences. The promising Rugby player would lose his ability to walk, let alone pursue his passion. Instead, Ballard underwent a series of complications over a decade, ultimately leading to the end of his life.

Sam became infected with a parasite known as rat lungworm; the most common parasite associated with slugs. Initially, his symptoms were severe weakness and pain throughout his legs. However, it soon became apparent that his health was deeply at risk. Eventually, he contracted meningitis and then went into a coma for 420 days.

Ballard finally came to, but learned that his life would never be the same. The parasite often associated with slugs, had caused an infection. In time, spreading to his brain and causing paralysis. He would no longer be able to walk but even everyday tasks like using the restroom or eating would prove impossible without assistance. As such, his loving mom Katie Ballard cared for him day after day. He was in need of 24-hour care until 2018, when he tragically passed away at 29. He passed with his friends and family close by and told his mom he loved just before his death.

Sam Ballard and his mother
Credit: Danny Aarons | News Corp Australia

Avoiding the Same Fate

Incredibly, Katie doesn’t blame his friends for the mishap and seemingly understands that friends sometimes encourage each other to partake in “peculiar acts.“. Sam’s story is one that will likely stick with his friends forever. Luckily, in many cases, this kind of thing is avoidable. Most easily by not eating or licking slugs, even for the sake of fulfilling a dare. Secondly, should you come into contact with slugs, avoid touching your face and most importantly your mouth. Moreover, prioritize washing your hands thoroughly and as soon as possible. Another easy way to avoid parasitic slugs is to know a little about them, including that range in size but can be small enough to hide in produce.

Therefore, avoiding any raw or undercooked mollusks, as well as double checking fruits and vegetables, can also help minimize the risk of Rat lungworm, and other diseases associated with slugs. Some other examples include angiostrongyliasis, paragonimiasis, and fascioliasis. Furthermore, the parasitic diseases carried by slugs have a severe and negative impact on major organs including the brain, biliary tract, and intestines. In some cases, they can also cause, in addition to death, an overactive immune system and infertility.

Understanding the Culprit

Rat lungworm has another, less common name, AC infection, which, according to the CDC, is “the most common infectious cause of eosinophilic meningitis. This type of meningitis affects white blood cells. According to the CDC, there are five types of meningitis, with parasitic meningitis less common than bacterial or viral meningitis. Rat lungworm also undergoes a life cycle, this is as obscene as it fascinating. Prior to infecting slugs and other mollusks, the rat lungworm is transmitted through rodents, hence the name. Rodents carry the adult worm, passing immature worms through their digestive tract. Next, the mollusks eat the rodent droppings and become infected. Lastly, humans or other animals become infected from coming into contact with the slug or its slime trail.

Read More: Father Left Paralyzed After Freak Cold Water Swim Accident


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