Australian Who Ate Slug on a Dare Dies After Long Health Nightmare

A diseased slug infected a teen who ate it on a dare.
The slug, it was later learned, was diseased. iStock

The Australian man suffered paralysis and brain damage after eating a slug that was diseased.

An Australian man whose life was ruined after being dared to eat a slug has died following a long heath battle that left him paralyzed and brain damaged.

Sam Ballard, who was 19 when he unwittingly ate a diseased slug in 2010, passed away last week, according to local reports.

Ballard had been a talented rugby player. Hanging out with friends one night and drinking red wine, Ballard was dared to eat a slug that was slithering across a patio. 

There were no immediate problems after ingesting the mollusk. But in the days after, Ballard began to experience serious pain in his legs and thought he might have multiple sclerosis, as his father did.

Medical tests ruled out that possibility and Ballard wondered if his pain was related to eating the slug. His mother told him not to worry.

Doctors later diagnosed him with rat lungworm, which usually affects only rodents. But slugs can become infected if they eat rat feces, health experts told the family.

Most people recover from the affliction, but Ballard did not. Instead, he got worse, lapsing into a coma for 420 days and emerging with brain damage severe paralysis. 

He couldn't feed himself and needed help using the bathroom. He understood what was going on around him, his mother said, and his friends still visited.

He died Friday, surrounded by his family and friends, Australian journalist Lisa Wilkinson reported. 

“His last words to his mom: ‘I love you,'" she posted online.