Danger lurks around every dare, a fact easily forgotten when young.
A 21-year-old Australian will likely be more cautious after accepting a dare to swallow garden slugs infested with rat lungworms and spending a month in intensive care.
The parasites, found in uncooked snails and contaminated water and even vegetables, invade the central nervous system and cause a form of meningitis, a serious condition that can lead to death or permanent brain damage. Hawaii had a spate of infections from veggies in 2009.
The unidentified Sydney man is expected to recover, and will surely start cooking his food, The Telegraph reports.
Monsters Inside Me, an Animal Planet TV show that will make you burn your passport, calls the rat lungworm “one of the most feared parasites on the planet.”
The lifecycle of the rat lungworm is so gross it bears repeating. Adult worms live in the lungs of rats, who cough up and swallow the parasites’ eggs. Rat feces, which harbors lungworm eggs, is then eaten by snails or slugs. Once the larvae is in a human, the adult worms take up residence in the brain and begins burrowing around looking for a way to the lungs. They are trapped and die in the brain, but more larvae are on the way. Eventually, the brain swells to the point of death.
If that doesn’t make you boil your slugs, nothing will.