No matter how much you want to win that bet, there is a lesson in this story from across the Tasman: never eat something hideous, just for a dare.

A Sydney man who ate a slug as a dare is fighting for his life after contracting a rare form of meningitis. The 21-year-old caught rat lungworm disease after performing the stunt some time ago, the ABC reported on Thursday.

He is now in a critical condition. The disease is caused by Angiostrongylus Cantonensis, a parasitic worm carried by rodents. Slugs and snails can become infected by eating the larvae in rat droppings. In some instances, the worm can cause fatal swelling of the brain and spinal chord.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health says such cases are rare and most people do recover. “It goes away by itself because the body’s immune system will eventually get rid of it,” he told the ABC. The disease can also be caught by eating raw vegetables or fruit that have not been washed properly.

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