There must be lots of family anecdotes and jokes associated with true life incidents of kids having eaten, or at least tried to eat snails and slugs.
While not the most appetizing meal, most donâ€™t realize that these slimy creatures have the potential to serious illness and even death.
Some garden snails and slugs carry the larvae of a parasitic worm Angiostrongylus cantonensis.
The worm is more commonly found in the lungs of rats. The host rats pass eggs and larvae through their droppings and slugs and snails are attracted to the droppings.
Eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs can then cause the larvae to be ingested. Even unwashed vegetables that snails have crawled over can be a potential danger.
The worm invades the intestinal wall and colonizes the brain, the spinal chord and lungs; potentially causing a deadly form of meningitis (eosinophilic).
A two-year-old Brisbane child died in 1971 after eating garden snails, as well as a person whom it was suspected had eaten lettuce contaminated with slug or snail slime.
Initially it was not believed that the parasite existed as far south as Sydney, however in 2001 a Sydney student who ate two slugs for a $20.00 dare contracted the deadly meningitis. Fortunately he recovered after 17 days of hospitalization and five months of rehabilitation. His mate also swallowed slugs but immediately vomited them up. He lost the bet, but saved himself from an extremely serious illness. Luck sometimes comes in strange packages!!!