Sam Ballard, A rugby-loving young Australian, he shocked the world in 2010 with his rare disease. When he was 19 years old and was at a meeting with friends, a slug, an animal that they considered ‘fun’ to eat as part of a challenge. However, they never imagined that carrying out this challenge would have great consequences in the future. Ballard decided to swallow this animal and consequently developed a serious infection that left him quadriplegic for years until he died.
We will tell you, below, the case of Sam Ballard, the athlete from Sydney whose life was completely changed by ingesting an infected mollusk.
“They were a group of 20-year-olds who had been drinking alcohol, suddenly a slug shows up and you’re dared to eat it,” Sam’s mother, Katie Ballard, said in an interview with Sydney’s 7 News in 2011.
What initially would be a fun weekend with friends turned into a painful process for Sam Ballard. After completing the slug-eating challenge, the young Australian contracted a parasitic worm known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which lives in rats and is sometimes transmitted to snails and slugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The roundworm parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or also known as rat lungworm, normally infects rodents, but during the early stages of their lives. They can only be contracted by slugs and snails if they consume the feces of these animals. In addition, it is possible to transmit it to people who eat such shellfish that are not well cooked.
In Ballard’s case, the worm caused a severe brain infection. Shortly thereafter, he slipped into a coma for 420 days and, after recovering somewhat, became a quadriplegic. It wasn’t until three years later that he was released from the hospital.
Ballard was considered a charismatic young man with great vitality, but once he contracted the disease, although it did not affect his mental faculties, it did affect his physical appearance and quality of life, since over the years he suffered seizures. Likewise, he could only eat through tubes and used a wheelchair.
Australian doctors described his condition as “an extremely unusual infection” and, according to the local Ministry of Health, most people who suffer from it do not experience symptoms and, if they do, these are temporary and mild.
It took eight years for Ballard’s suffering to finally end. At the end of 2018, the young rugby lover passed away due to complications in his health. Despite the fact that he went through difficult times, he always had the support of his family, so in his last days “he was surrounded by 20 of those he loved the most in the world,” according to what the page indicated. official of him