Sam Ballard was like many typical young men in Sydney, Australia just starting out when one simple act changed his life forever.
Ballard liked to sit around with his mates, daring each other to do stupid things.
On one such night, as Ballard and friends were sitting in his buddy Jimmy Galvin’s backyard, the young men noticed a slug crawling across the garden.
One of Ballard’s friends dared him to eat the slug and without thinking too much, Ballard swallowed it.
That began a heartbreaking chain of events that led to Ballard falling into a coma, becoming paralyzed and needing 24-hour care. Earlier this week, seven years after consuming the slug that had a parasitic worm, Ballard, 27, died.
Ballard died from ingesting a slug that had Rat lungworm disease which is called by a parasite called Angiostronjilus cantonensis.
The parasite lodges in the lungs of rats and is later excreted in poop. Doctors realized after Ballard first got sick that the disease, found in slugs and snails when they eat rat faeces, that he had been infected with rat lungworm.
Shortly after Ballard consumed the snail, he began feeling weakness, dizziness and pain in his legs. He was taken to hospital emergency and wondered out loud to his mother Katie if the garden slug he had eaten could be the cause.
He fell into a coma for 420 days and when he woke, the disease had spread to his brain. Seven years later, in hospital, Ballard died.