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Eating Tide-Pods is so last month — now there are cases being reported of kids eating raw slugs and getting seriously sick. According to National Geographic, a 19-year-old teen named Sam Ballard recently swallowed a slug on a dare. Well that was a bad idea because the Aussie then developed a rare form of meningitis and fell into a coma that lasted more than a year. He’s awake now, but remains paralyzed from the neck down. And three more cases have been reported of young folks eating slugs or snails on a dare. So please, stop doing this.
Doctors say that a parasite in the slug called rat lungworm can burrow itself in the human brain and wreck havoc.
Originally from Asia, rat lungworm is now found in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. In 2017, Hawaii’s state epidemiologist Sarah Park said they now have about 10 human cases of rat lungworm a year.
In Brazil, a failed attempt at escargot farming likely brought in the brain-invading parasite. Kits sold for growing giant African snails in the backyard spawned a popular home business in the late 1980s. When that cottage industry collapsed—Brazilians, it turns out, are not huge fans of the delicacy—the snails invaded the environment, and the rat lungworm parasite inevitably took up residence. In 2007, National Geographic reported on two human cases of meningitis in Brazil that were caused by rat lungworm from African giant snails.
Rat lungworms can live in a variety of snail and slug species, which show no obvious signs of infection, so it’s impossible to know whether any animals you see outdoors are carriers.
Want to feel more sick? Rat lungworm spends part of its life in the lungs of rats. Rats pretty much cough up baby worms, and sometimes they swallow some of them. And because of that, the “worms pass through the rat’s gut and get deposited in its poop. A snail or slug eats that poop and picks up worm larvae, which grow for a while inside the new slow-moving host.”
So kids, please stay away from eating raw slugs and snails. Just continue to do harm to your body the good old fashion way: by stuffing your face with fast food. God Bless America.