Rugby player becomes paraplegic after swallowing slug for dare

A rugby player became paraplegic after he swallowed a slug for a dare and was infected with a parasite.

Sam Ballard quickly fell ill and was rushed to hospital after eating the slug at his friend's house in Sydney, Australia in 2010.

Doctors told the 19-year-old that he was infected with Angiostrongylus cantonensis, otherwise known as rat lungworm.

Most people develop no symptoms, but very rarely it can cause an infection of the brain, as happened to Sam.

After initially improving, he collapsed into a coma for 420 days upon contracting eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, a form of meningitis.

He spent three years in hospital. Now aged 28, he is tube fed, cannot control his body temperature, suffers seizures and will use a wheelchair for life.

Angiostrongylus cantonensis commonly infects rats. It can also be found in slugs and snails if they eat rat droppings.

Sam's mother, Katie, said the accident completely changed his life. She told The Daily Telegraph:

It's devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever.

It’s huge. The impact is huge.

Prior to this, his mother called him "invincible", describing him as "my rough-and-tumble Sam".

Katie Ballard is now battling mounting debts after her son's government funded disability benefits were slashed.

Sam was eligible for a £300,000 packaged through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2016.

But last September, the NDIS informed Kate that his allocation had been slashed to around £75,000 and did no provide further explanation.

Around-the-clock care means the family are now heavily in debt.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme told The Daily Telegraph they are "working closely with the Ballard family" to increase the grant.

HT The Daily Telegraph

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