Sam ate a slug, became paralyzed and died

In 2010, 19-year-old Sam, an avid rugby player, was drinking with Jimmy Galvin and several more of his Australian “mates” when a slug began crawling across Galvin’s concrete patio at his home in Sydney.
“We were sitting over here, having a bit of red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups,” Galvin recalled in a video interview this year with Lisa Wilkinson of “The Sunday Project,” a current affairs talk show that airs on Network 10 in Australia. CNN reached out to Galvin but has not heard back.
“And then the conversation came up, ‘Should I eat it?’ ” recalled Galvin. “And then off Sam went and bang, that’s how it happened.”

After downing the slug, Sam became weak and complained of severe pain in his legs, according to “The Sunday Project.” Sam’s mother, Katie Ballard, told the news show that at first they worried he might have multiple sclerosis, which had afflicted her husband. But doctors said no, that wasn’t the cause.
Then Sam turned to his mother and told her he had eaten a slug, “And I went, ‘No, no one gets sick from that,’ ” Katie Ballard said. CNN has also reached out to Ballard.
Soon, however, doctors told them otherwise. Sam had developed rat lungworm disease from the infected slug, changing his life forever…

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Angiostronjilus cantonensis. As the name suggests, the parasite lodges in the lungs of rats and is later excreted in poop. Along comes a slug, snail, freshwater crab, shrimp, prawn or frog, and either eats the rat dung or the parasite works its way into the creature infecting it. Fish, however, do not spread the parasite.

Humans can be infected if they eat the raw or undercooked contaminated animals, or vegetables carrying unseen snails or slugs that have not been thoroughly washed.

In addition, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, beverages can become contaminated with worms if left open for snails and slugs to enter.

Unlike in rats, the worm’s life cycle is not completed in a human. So instead of passing through the digestive tract, the worm larvae “can get lost, and it will go to the brain, and it’ll stay there,” said Heather Stockdale Walden, an assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology at the University of Florida. The parasite is not passed from human to human.

“When it gets to the brain, you can have eosinophilic meningitis,” Walden said, which is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fever and a stiff neck, the CDC said.


Late last week, Sam died, “The Sunday Project’s” Wilkinson wrote in a blog post.


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