L A week, Australian Sam Ballard died after an eight-year illness that all started with an unexpected assailant: a garden…
L A week, Australian Sam Ballard died after an eight-year illness that all started with an unexpected assailant: a garden slug he swallowed on a dare.
As a 19-year-old in 2010, The rugby player attended a small gathering with a few friends, where they encouraged him to swallow a live slug. This feat may have been harmless – if a bit gross – except that the slug contained a hidden parasite: a nematode called Angiostrongylus cantonensis commonly known as rat lungworm.
Shortly after swallowing the slug, Ballard became paralyzed. He had brain damage and never fully recovered. He died at age 28 on Friday.
Despite Ballard’s untimely death, he was fortunate to receive medical care that helped give him a few more years with his family and friends. Many animals that encounter A. cantonensis are not as fortunate, as in the case of the tawny frogmouth ( Podargus strigoides ) in the video above. ☝
This Australian bird probably became infected in the same way Ballard did: By eating an infected mollusk like a slug or a snail. As de video shows, de infectieve vogel is meestal paralyzed en heeft problemen met ademhaling. Men hvis det blev inficeret ved at spise en snegl, så hvorfor er sygdommen called rat lungworm disease? It all has to do with the parasite’s strange life cycle.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention video above shows that A. cantonensis infects the lungs of a rat, usually living in the pulmonary artery, the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. Eventually, the worms are simply in the rat’s lungs, at which point the hapless animal coughs them up. And instead of spitting the worms out ̵
1; as that would be quite rude – the rat swallows the worms. As a majority of us know, what is swallowed eventually gets pooped out, and this is how the rat lungworms can infect other animals.
When a slug or snail slims over an infected rat’s poop, it either eats the worms or becomes an unwitting carrier as the worms penetrate its body. Da, da a rat eats the infected mollusk, the whole process starts again.
The Tawny Frogmouth.
The Tawny Frogmouth.
In a 2016 paper published in the journal Parasitology a team of researchers outlined findings from examining a handful of tawny frogmouths, as well as some small Australian mammals that had contracted the disease. De skriver at en diagnose er vanligvis gjort baseret på symptomer og “historie af mollusc forbrug”, samt testresultater på cerebral spinal fluid. Den røde lungwormsygdommen kan forårsake eosinofilisk meningitis, en tilstand med en række symptomer inklusive koma og død. In Ballard’s case, doctors made his diagnosis quite quickly once he told them he’d eaten the slug. By then, it was too late, though.
For the most part, this rare disease is not a cause for concern. If a person becomes infected, they can not infect another person. The CDC recommends avoiding rat lungworm disease by washing vegetables well under running water, as well as thoroughly cooking any freshwater crabs, shrimp or frogs before eating them since these animals could eat infected slugs and snails.