Healthy Living

Man Who Ate Slug On Dare Gets Infected With Rat Lungworm

Three people in Hawaii have been diagnosed with rat lungworm infection recently. Among them was a tourist from America who got the parasite after eating a slug on a dare.

According to the Hawaiian Department of Health, although all of the cases are rat lungworm-related, all three were isolated and happened months apart. However, all victims were visiting from America.

Health officials said one of the people who got the worm purposely “ate a slug on a dare” back in December. The others, however, are thought to have picked it up after eating salad and vegetables that were unwashed. Slugs, especially young ones, can usually be found feeding on the leaves and stems of plants and produce.

The rat lungworm infection was caused by a parasitic roundworm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The cycle of this parasite starts when rats consume slugs that are infected with the roundworms. After eating these slugs, the roundworms usually find their way to the rats’ lungs.

In humans, however, the primary cause and catalyst behind the condition is infection through translucent baby slugs that are not visible to the naked eye. These baby slugs can have thousands of ringworms present in them.

Per the CDC, the symptoms of the condition are usually varied and different, although severe headaches and neck stiffness are common. In some rare cases, severe pain, neurological issues and even something as serious as long-term disability, such as brain damage, are noted

“People present with symptoms of bacterial meningitis, such as nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, and headaches that are often global and severe,” according to the CDC. “Additionally, abnormal sensations of the arms and legs can occur.”

Thankfully, most cases of the infection get resolved on their own due to the worms being unable to survive long inside the human body. But there are infections that lead to more serious complications, such as neurological ones.

An example is a 19-year old athlete in Australia, who became quadriplegic and eventually died due to infection reaching his brain. Another notable case happened to rugby player Sam Ballard, who died in 2018 after going through years of seizures and living with constant care because of the rat lungworm infection.

tigerschnecke-332168_960_720 A slug. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)