By Lindsey Bever | The Washington Post
Sam Ballard swallowed the snail in a risk.
The young rugby player from Sydney was a "Larrikin" – a "rough" free spirit, his mother said. When the creature crawled over a table at a party in 2010 and his friends invited him to eat it, her son accepted the challenge, she said.
"Twenty-year-old boy, red wine, alcohol sitting at the table of a colleague – a snail on the table, someone scolding a risk," said his mother Katie Ballard in an interview with 7 News Sydney the following year. "Boys will be boys," she said.
The venture was perhaps innocent enough.
But after swallowing the snail Ballard contracted a rat lungworm – a parasitic worm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) that lives in rodents and can be transmitted to snails and snails. These gastropods can then transmit the worm to humans.
In an unusual and tragic twist, the parasite attacked Ballard's brain – he had to put him in a coma for more than a year and let him paralyzed according to News.com.au. In the end, it killed him.
29-year-old Ballard died last week according to the Sunday Project. His last words to his mother were, according to the Australian news program "I love you".
Ballard got severe leg pain within days after eating the snail.
He asked his mother if this could have been caused by the living being.
"No, nobody will get sick of it," his mother said, she said, remembering the incident in an interview earlier this year.
His doctors, however, soon discovered that he had become ill with the snail.
"He was scared," his mother told The Sunday Project. "As a mother you just want to reassure her. I think he did not do anything wrong. It was just a stupid thing. "
– The project (@theprojecttv) April 1, 2018
Ballard, whose mother once said he seemed "invincible", became four-columned. He suffered seizures for years, had to eat and breathe through the tubes, and needed constant care for which the family was struggling, according to the Daily Telegraph.
In 2011, Katie Ballard wrote on Facebook that her son was "still the same cheeeeeeeekkkyyy Sam" and that she believed he would talk and leave again.
Lisa Wilkinson of the Sunday Project wrote in a column Monday that for nearly nine years, "Sam's beautiful angel of a mother, Katie, was on Sam's side as his main caregiver and never wavered in her love. fed him, turned him, drove him, brought him to bathe and go to the toilet, organized medical and hospital visits, always trying to find the brighter moments, so that she could see her boy smile again, woke up with every sound in the night and always caring for Sam's friends felt welcome in his new, limited world. Whenever they came to visit, how often, Sam's eyes were always lit up.
"And Katie was always optimistic about what the future held for him."
Ballard is dead now.
The parasitic worm Angiostrongylus cantonensis lives in the lungs of rodents.
As the CDC explains in a video, the rodent – typically a rat – coughs up the worms and then swallows them into the animal's stomach. Finally, the rat excretes the worms.
Snails or snails can become infected if they eat rat feces, according to the CDC, and humans can become infected by eating snails or snails.
According to the CDC:
People can become infected by eating raw or undercooked snails or snails that are infected with this parasite. In some cultures, snails are eaten frequently. Especially children have "infected" by swallowing snails. "People can also be accidentally infected by eating raw products (such as lettuce) that contain a small snail or a snail or part of it.
It has been found that certain animals such as freshwater prawns, crabs or frogs are infected with larvae of the parasite. It is possible that the consumption of undercooked or raw animals that are infected may lead to human infection, although the evidence is not as clear as when eating infected snails and snails. Interestingly, fish do not spread this parasite.
Cases have been reported in Hawaii and the continental United States, according to the CDC. A New Orleans boy became ill with the parasite in 1993 when, according to the agency, he ate a snail "on the ware", which, however, did not need to be treated.
Australian health officials have described it as an "extremely rare infection."
The Department of Health of New South Wales said in an information leaflet that most people who participate in it have no symptoms; If this is the case, the symptoms are usually temporary and mild, said the health department.
According to the ministry:
Very rarely, the rat's lungworm causes an infection (infestation) of the brain called eosinophilic meningoencephalitis. People with this condition may have a headache, a stiff neck, tingling or pain in the skin, fever, nausea and vomiting. The time between eating the snail or snail and vomiting the disease is usually 1-3 weeks.
Anyone with these symptoms should undergo a medical examination, although other infections (eg, meningococcal disease or pneumococcal disease) are more likely to cause meningitis in children.
Health officials warn people against eating raw snails or slugs, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables and looking for slimy animals.