A grieving mother is sharing her story after her son tragically became a paraplegic after eating a slug as a dare.

In 2010, Sam Ballard, now 28, was dared to swallow a garden slug at a friend’s party.

Soon after Mr Ballard fell ill and was told by doctors he had been infected with rat lungworm, Daily Mail shares.

The worm is commonly found in rats but snails or slugs can be infected when they eat rodent droppings.

Rarely the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis causes an infection on the brain.

Tragically Mr Ballard contracted eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis and lapsed into a coma for 420 days.

Now aged 28, Mr Ballard is tube fed, suffers seizures and struggles to control his body temperature.

The danger to children

The Australian Geographic report, approx. 5% of common garden snails in and around Sydney, NSW, contain larvae of the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, commonly known as the rat lungworm.

It is probably more common in Brisbane and is seen on the coast from far north Queensland down to Jervis Bay, NSW.

Several cases of neural angiostrongyliasis have been seen in Sydney and Brisbane, affecting both adult humans and infants.

Most affected children have been thought to eat slugs or snails, but it is possible that putting the snails in their mouth may have been sufficient to cause disease.

Adult humans can be infected if snails are left in vegetables used in a garden salad and ingested accidentally.

They recommend that parents don’t let kids play with snails or slugs and to also be careful with pets.

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  • When my kids were little …..20 years ago….we were very aware of the dangers of snails.


  • Wow, what an eye opener


  • Enough of these dares. What is their purpose other than to bully people? This is such a tragic story, and I do understand this could have happened in other circumstances. Good to know this info, but sad that someone had to learn this way.


  • Oh dear, what a sad story.


  • Wow, that’s gross! I never realised that it wasn’t the snail itself that caused ill affects, but a disease it carries, I had heard that snails were poisonous so I guess that’s not quite correct. Interesting stuff!


  • Have heard about this and thankfully we live in Victoria and it’s not yet here. We have a pet garden snail! Actually it’s our second pet snail!


  • Whoa, you can still possibly contract it from unwashed salads???!!!!!!!!!


  • How sad for this man and his family. I didn’t kow this and grew up playing with snails myself


  • Even without knowing the consequences, why would you accept such a stupid and disgusting dare? A young life tragically reduced to a future with little quality ….


  • Ew gross! My kids didn’t touch the slimey creepy crawlies so I was safe. Just one more thing to add to the list


  • I’ve have a lot of slugs and snails in my front yard. My youngest has Down Syndrome and eats anything and everything. Reading this, I’ll always watch her up extra closely in our front yard.


  • So stupid to take on a dare like that.


  • My son loves stomping on them. So glad he’s never tried to eat one.


  • So tragic. Mr. Ballard now has poor quality of life because of a stupid dare


  • Oh. So scary. And he was in coma for more than a year??? :-( What a stupid dare. :-(


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