“Snails look absolutely scrumptious,” said no one except for the unsettling kids at school who enjoyed eating boogers more than burgers. Presumably, those kids became palate-challenged adults who saw the shelled loogies through food-colored glasses. Unfortunately, not only do snails look like the Blue Fairy’s ill-fated attempt to bring phlegm to life; those slow-footed sacks of slime can make you seriously ill. A man in China discovered that the hard way when doctors discovered a 12-centimeter (5-inch) tapeworm snacking on the dude’s brain. As the Global Timesdescribes, the parasite had been chowing down on his skull meat for roughly 15 years.
The 36-year-old worm host, whose surname is Wang, had dined on fried river snails multiple times in 2004. About a year later he started to experience nausea and felt “pins and needles in his arms and legs and even had convulsions.” Live Science adds that in 2007 Wang, became numb on his left side. In 2018, doctors ID’d the culprit: sparganosis, a tapeworm infection that typically occurs in the intestines of cats, dogs, and nightmares among other things. Luckily, Wang underwent a successful surgery to remove the parasite, preventing a bizarre medical horror story from ending in a bizarre tragedy. Unluckily for people who eat snails, tapeworms aren’t the only source of worry.
Snails are escar-gross
Everyone’s favorite mucousy gastropod is full icky critters that will turn your stomach and potentially turn you into a corpse. Science Daily explains that some snails carry “vicious, killer” flatworms that researchers have referred to as “warrior worms” and “parasitic ‘body snatchers.'” These terrifying snail-snatchers form colonies containing thousands of worms. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, snails, slugs, and other living boogers can also spread Angiostrongylus cantonensis, known more appetizingly as the rat lungworm.
Snails contract rat lungworm by eating worm-infested rat poop. And humans can get it by feasting on undercooked rat-poop eaters. Rat lungworm can cause eosinophilic meningitis, whose symptoms include nausea and vomiting (though, that may have more to do with knowing that you indirectly ate rat poop), headaches, and strange skin sensations such as tangling. In more extreme cases, people suffer paralysis or die. So the next time you feel tempted to eat a snail, you should probably burn it to a crisp or, better yet, blow your nose onto a plate, add your favorite seasoning, and enjoy nasal globules instead.
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