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05th Nov 2018

Rugby player who ate a slug as a dare has died aged 28

Carl Kinsella

Sam Ballard, a Sydney man who ate a garden slug as a joke, has died

Ballard was 19 and a promising rugby player when he ate the slug as a dare while hanging out with his friends. Soon afterwards, he complained of pain in his legs, and doctors eventually diagnosed him with rat lungworm.

Lungworm is a condition often found in rodents, but it is also possible for slugs and snails to carry the disease. From there, Ballard contracted eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, which many people recover from.

Unfortunately, Ballard fell into a coma that lasted for over a year, and when he awoke he had suffered severe brain damage. Ballard struggled to speak or move his limbs, though his family reported that he understood everything that was said to him.

Australian newsreader Lisa Wilkinson, working for Network 10, broke the news on Sunday, saying: “We have some sad news for you now. Earlier this year we brought you the story of Sam Ballard who, on a dare from his mates, ate a slug. He contracted rat lung disease with devastating effects,” Wilkinson said.

“His friends have stuck by him ever since. On Friday, Sam passed away, surrounded by his family and loyal, loving mates. His last words to his mum: ‘I love you’.”