In an article published in The Medical Journal of Australia, the bizarre case of a young man who developed mysterious symptoms after eating two garden slugs for a dare was chronicled.
The man who showed puzzling symptoms over a period of weeks was diagnosed with human eosinophilic meningitis after eating the molluscs, which play host to the larval stage of a lung worm parasite, the Journal said.
“Repeated questioning revealed that the patient had ingested, five weeks earlier for a dare, two slugs from a garden in a Sydney suburb,” said co-author of the report John Walker of the Department of Medicine at Sydney University.
Out for the count
“Humans become accidental hosts when they ingest the larval stage in raw or undercooked molluscs or crustaceans, or in fresh vegetables contaminated by infected molluscs,” Walker said.
It took five months before the patient was able to return to full-time studies and competitive sport.
The Angiostrongylus cantonensis parasite is the most common infectious cause of eosinophilic meningitis worldwide and is endemic in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin.
In Australia, the first human infection with the A cantonensis parasite was reported in 1971. Since then, a fatal case occurred in a child who ingested molluscs in a suburban Brisbane garden.