The mother of
, who was paralyzed from the neck down after swallowing a slug on a dare, is fighting the government after they dramatically cut his benefits for medicinal care.
In 2010, 19-year-old, Sam Ballard reportedly ate a garden slug at a birthday party that everyone at first thought was harmless. The high-schooler would later become paralyzed and unable to communicate or care for himself.
According to media sources, the slug was carrying a rare disease called “angiostrongyliasis”, also known as rodent lungworm. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) claims that slugs typically acquire the parasite when they ingest feces from contaminated rats. More so, the agency admitted that many have gotten infected with the disease by “swallowing snails/slugs on a dare”.
For Ballard, the infection led to him falling into a state of severe lethargy for more than a year. The parasite caused the teen a serious brain infection which led to a 420-day coma and a neck-down paralysis when he was finally released from the hospital three years later.
Nearly a decade later, Ballard requires 24-hour care to help with every activity, including being fed, monitoring his breathing, and even being encouraged. He lives with a tracheostomy tube permanently in place, suffers from constant seizures and his body struggles to maintain a constant temperature.
In 2016, Ballard was deemed eligible for a disability package worth $383,700 thousand from Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. However, Ballard’s insurance benefits were cut down to about $105 thousand after the administration reviewed his case.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a government-run agency that provides financial assistance for medical or mental health care to those that are disabled.
While rat lungworm can parasitize frogs, land crabs, and freshwater shrimp, people with the infection very often do not develop any symptoms, or if they do, it’s just a stiff neck, fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting. The CDC said that the parasite usually dies on its own, regardless if the person resorts to treatment or not.
The Australian insurance organization never clarified to the mother or the teen’s family why the cut was made nor did they alert her of the cut. Instead, they reportedly sent her an instant message suggesting that the mom look into her child’s record for his most recent subsidizing result, which revealed the reduction.
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