This man died after eating a slug that gave him meningitis

This is the tragic tale from 2018 of a dare gone wrong.

man died after eating slug
© On The Road / MK2 Productions
man died after eating slug

We have all been there: you are sitting around with pals and someone comes up with the bright idea of playing a game. Never Have I Ever is a classic, as is Two Truths and a Lie, but the simplest ones are often the lasting favourites: a simple dare works every time. However, such a simple thing can also lead to disaster, as was the case for this Australian teen.

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Australia may share the same language as the UK, but the wildlife couldn't be more different. We recently heard the tale of the doctors who found an 8 cm worm alive inside a woman’s brain, and this story is even more horrifying. Sam Ballard was 19 years old when he accepted a dare that changed his life forever and eventually led to his death.

Sam Ballard’s dare

When Sam was 19 years old, he was hanging out with pals. His friend Jimmy explained:

We were sitting, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups and a slug came crawling across.

A dare was floated: someone should eat the slug. It’s unclear exactly how Sam ended up being the one to do it, but he went ahead and consumed the slimy animal. The worst you would imagine coming from this silly joke is perhaps a stomach ache or sickness. No one was prepared for what would come as a result of this one moment.

The slug was infected

Sam would soon discover that the animal he ingested was in fact infected. It was hosting a parasite known as lungworm - something that vets commonly come across in farm and domestic animals. As a result of this parasite, Sam suffered extreme weakness and pain in his legs.

The effects didn’t stop there; over time, the 19-year-old contracted a strand of meningitis known as eosinophilic meningoencephalitis. Although his condition was severe, like most forms of meningitis, it was treatable.

420-day coma

However, Sam’s condition worsened, and he fell into a 420-day coma. He did wake up, but to horrible news: the parasite had caused an infection in his body. It had spread to his brain, and caused severe paralysis. Sam couldn’t eat without assistance and spent his life in a wheelchair before dying at the young age of 29.

Sam’s mother Katie, who cared for Sam throughout, has spoken about this tragic experience. Her son died in 2018, and she spoke to the Daily Telegraph in Australia about how his illness changed his - and her - life. She explained that such a debilitating condition meant even going to the toilet became a real challenge for Sam. However, she manages not to hold any grudges against his teenage pals. She understands that things like this happen, and saw the incident as a tragic side effect of spending time in groups.

His friends continued to visit him and he was surrounded by loved ones when he passed. His final words were to his mum: ‘I love you’.

Read more:

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Sources used:

Unilad: Man ate slug after being dared to by his mates and it ended in an absolute tragedy

BlueCross: What is lungworm?

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