The Animals That Could Kill You If You Eat Them

Two tragic incidents where Australians died after being linked to eating animals for a dare have turned the spotlight on how dangerous such stunts can be.

The Nine newspapers reported a story today about Queensland man David Dowell, who died 10 days after his friends said he ate a gecko for a joke at a Christmas party.

He was rushed to a Brisbane hospital in December in "absolute agony", and later diagnosed with a salmonella infection. He died in surgery, and his family are now searching for answers.

David Dowell and his long-term partner Allira. Photo: Facebook

Dowell's sister Hannah said there was still no confirmation the gecko was swallowed, with fellow partygoers mentioning that they thought he had swallowed a lizard for a dare.

While salmonella is usually linked to tainted food products, a University of Queensland expert told the newspapers that the bacteria can be found in other animals such as frogs and snakes.

News of Dowell's death came just a month after another Australian man died, eight years after he was dared by his mates to eat a slug.

Sam Ballard died eight years after swallowing a slug for a dare.

Sam Ballard was among a group of teenagers relaxing with some red wine in the backyard of an upper north shore home in 2010 when he swallowed the slug.

READ MORE: Lisa Wilkinson: Sam Ballard's Funeral Was A Deeply Moving Tribute To A One-In-A-Million Bloke

In the days after, he complained of serious pain in his legs before falling into a coma and suffering an acquired brain injury.

He had been infected with rat lungworm and never recovered. He died in November 2018.

Ballard was just 19 when he swallowed the slug.

According to the World Health Organisation, food poisoning alone kills 420,000 people each year and causes 600 million illnesses. In Australia, 5.1 million people are affected each year.

There are more than 250 different foodborne diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, and while raw or undercooked meat is often the culprit, vegetables can also be responsible for illness.

Photo: Getty

The causes of food poisoning are Salmonella, Listeria, Staphylococcus, Trichinosis, E. coli, Campylobacter, Clostridium.

All have different symptoms and are spread through different avenues. It's worth checking out this list from the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

The Australian examples are just two among a series of tragic incidents linked to eating animals in recent years.

A Mongolian couple died of bubonic plague in May, after eating the raw meat of a marmot, a type of rodent.

Despite authorities warning citizens that the animal can carry Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacteria, many locals believe the meat has a number of health benefits. In Mongolia, at least one person dies of the plague each year.

Raw marmot meat still kills roughly one person each year.

In 2012, a man died after winning a cockroach-eating competition in Florida.

Edward Archbold was one of about 30 contestants who swallowed dozens of live cockroaches, worms and other bugs in a bid to win the competition's prize -- a python.

He fell ill within minutes, collapsed and never regained consciousness.

A coroner ruled his airway became obstructed with "arthropod body parts".

Live octopus, which is a delicacy in South Korea and Japan, is also deemed a choking hazard.

In April 2010 a South Korean woman collapsed and stopped breathing after eating a live octopus.

READ MORE: Vlogger Rips Live Octopus From Her Face After Trying To Eat It

A tentacle was found in the woman's throat and she died in hospital 16 days later. 

Her boyfriend was charged with murder but eventually the conviction was overturned in the Supreme Court.

In a separate case, a vlogger was left screaming in pain as she tried to eat an octopus Image: Dan Yao Bu Ji Jun, Weibo