Why You Need to Always Wash Your Hands After Handling Slugs

Why You Need to Always Wash Your Hands After Handling Slugs

It’s not just the slime that’s a problem, but potentially deadly parasites.

In many places, gardening season is over. The thought of dealing with slugs could be long gone, but learning how to handle them is always pertinent. Why? Because it could literally save your life.

A recent article in Newsweek tells the true story of Sam Ballard, an Australian man who died after contracting a rare disease from eating-yes, actually eating- a slug.

Ballard, who died at 27, was dared by his friends to ingest a garden slug eight years ago. At the age of 19, he ate the slug and then fell ill. Suspecting his problems could be stemming from the slug, he visited the doctor and found out he had rat lungworm.

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This illness is caused by a roundworm parasite that’s found in the feces of rodents. It can pass to slugs when they eat the larvae.

Rat lungworm is most readily found in Hawaii, with just a few cases popping up elsewhere in the U.S. People who contract it can go on to recover. Unfortunately, in Ballard’s case, the illness progressed into eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, a type of meningitis. It caused him to fall into a coma for a year, suffering brain damage.

Rat lungworm can be found on snails, slugs, frogs, shrimp and prawns. To stay safe, always cook these items thoroughly before eating, and wash your hands well after working in the garden. It’s also wise to wash all produce well.

Photo credits: scott conner/Shutterstock.com

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