“I’ll provide you with ten bucks to eat that.”
That was the dare going through 17-year-old Liam McGuigan on a faculty soccer journey on Queensland, Australia’s Sunshine Coast. His response: “It gained’t kill me.”
McGuigan picked up a slug, put it in his mouth and swallowed it. He now realizes how extremely fortunate he’s to be telling his story, notably this week after a Sydney man died from doing the identical factor.
Within the days that adopted McGuigan’s dare, the coed began feeling torpid. His muscle mass stopped working.
“I went to the hospital they usually thought it may be my appendix. In order that they took that out,” he tells Information.com.au from Brisbane.
Medical doctors have been mistaken. Inside hours he was behind an ambulance, stripped bare, coated in ice to cut back his hovering temperature.
McGuigan’s physique was shutting down as a result of the slug he swallowed was carrying a parasitic worm. When the slug died, the worm discovered a brand new residence in his spinal twine and “mainly ate its manner as much as my mind.”
The now-27-year-old fell right into a coma. Medical doctors at Royal Brisbane Hospital saved him within the coma for 4 weeks and pumped his physique stuffed with steroids. They informed his mom to “plan his funeral” and that he had a one-in-17 million shot at surviving.
Then he awoke — a shadow of his former self.
“Once I went in, I weighed [187 pounds]. Once I got here out of the coma, I used to be [84 pounds]. My thigh seemed like my wrist, simply pores and skin hanging off it,” McGuigan says.
“I needed to discover ways to eat, converse, stroll, all the things yet again. I knew easy methods to do it however getting my mind to inform my physique easy methods to do it was one other factor.”
Employees scribbled the alphabet on a whiteboard at Royal Brisbane Hospital alongside the phrases “sure” and “no.” For weeks McGuigan would talk that manner. If he needed water, or the tv, or the bathroom, he needed to spell it out.
Speech remedy adopted for 4 months and his last 12 months of highschool went out the window. He would finally repeat, get his diploma, and regain “99 %” of his former life.
This week, he was reminded once more how fortunate he’s.
Sam Ballard, 29, died on Friday surrounded by household in Sydney’s north, eight years after he ate a slug as a dare.
Ballard contracted the identical illness — eosinophilic meningoencephalitis — and spent 420 days in a coma. When he woke, he had an acquired mind damage that meant he wanted 24/7 care and couldn’t feed himself.
“We have been sitting over right here having a little bit of a crimson wine appreciation night time, making an attempt to behave as grown up and a slug got here crawling throughout right here,” Ballard’s pal Jimmy Galvin stated.
“The dialog got here up, you understand. ‘Ought to I eat it?’ And off Sam went. Bang. That’s the way it occurred.”
When information broke that Ballard had handed away, McGuigan’s cellphone lit up with messages from pals grateful that he didn’t endure the identical destiny.
“All my family and friends noticed Sam’s article and tagged me in it,” McGuigan says. “I give it some thought on a regular basis. That might’ve been me.”
Today McGuigan is a contented, wholesome home painter. He’s not too long ago married, too. His message is easy: “Hugs not slugs.”
“It was silly however I didn’t suppose it was harmful,” he says. “Being 17 years outdated, you do silly issues. I’m fortunate.”
Each Ballard and McGuigan ate slugs that have been carrying rat lungworm. The worm is often present in rodents however mollusks that eat rat excrement may develop into contaminated.
The New South Wales Authorities’s Division of Well being reality sheet reveals that signs range from affected person to affected person. Some individuals develop no signs, others can have delicate, short-lived signs.
“Very not often, rat lungworm causes an infestation of the mind. Individuals with this situation might have complications, a stiff neck, tingling ache within the pores and skin, fever, nausea and vomiting.”
The division advises easy measures to keep away from the illness embrace by no means consuming uncooked snails or slugs, supervising infants across the backyard, washing greens and lettuce and washing palms after gardening.