If you take nothing else from all our E-mail broadcasts, take only this and pass it on to the younger generations: don’t eat raw snails.
It’s a lesson that one South Vietnamese gentleman and his two sons had to learn the hard way. They were rushed to hospital suffering from fever, headaches and confusion, and eventually the father became comatose and rigid.
When finally the two sons recovered (the father is still bedridden, and is helped to perform basic daily activities), they told doctors that all three had been eating snails.
Raw snails are a delicacy in South Vietnam where they are often washed down with rice wine.
Unfortunately, the snails are a common cause of a form of meningitis, which occurs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific basin. Infection comes from eating the larvae in uncooked snails or slugs, freshwater prawns, frogs and fish, so sushi lovers should also beware.
As one of the doctors who treated the three said: ‘Those who partake rarely know the dangers of a raw snail supper.’ But you, dear readers, do.
(Source: The Lancet, 2003; 361: 1866).