There were plenty of moments in 2018 that made us scratch our heads, but these headlines, in particular, had us doing a double-take. Here's at look at some of Fox News Health's strange — but very true — medical moments in 2018:
In 2010, Sam Ballard swallowed a garden slug on a dare from a friend. He didn’t become sick immediately, but complained of serious pain in his legs in the days after. A trip to the doctor confirmed rat lungworm disease which led to eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, and he never recovered. He fell into a coma for 420 and suffered a severe brain injury. He died in early November, eight years after taking the challenge.
David Braham, 40, is blaming a chicken curry dish for triggering a rare autoimmune disorder that's left him paralyzed for weeks. Braham said he felt sick while watching his son play rugby, and was soon fighting for his life in the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with Gillian-Barre syndrome. He is hopes to be well enough to join his family at home for Christmas.
Greg Phillpotts said he ruined Thanksgiving for everyone last year when his runny nose leaked into the meal he was preparing. He believed symptoms, which had been bothering him on-and-off for five years, were just allergies. But a trip to the doctor in February actually revealed a cerebral fluid leak. He's since had corrective surgery.
"Zombie skin" seems like a line out of a sci-fi thriller, but for this 29-year-old Australian man it proved to be a terrifying reality. The hiker was visiting Greenland during its summer months, meaning the sun was out for 24 hours per day. He had been using lime to flavor his water, not realizing the juice on his hands and the prolonged exposure to the sun was creating a perfect storm. He was given antibiotics and told to wear gloves, and said two months later his hands had recovered.
Stacey Peoples, 49, was left without vision in her left eye after contracting acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare infection in which an amoeba attacks the outer layer of the eye. Peoples, of Denver, believes she contracted the infection at her local pool when she wore her contact lenses while swimming with her 8-year-old son Charlie. Peoples was forced to apply painful eye drops every two hours for five months to kill the infection and was in so much pain she could not stray far from her bed. She underwent a cornea transplant and has since had her vision restored.
The 36-year-old woman had been back home for two months when she noticed something was amiss. A small itchy lesion that looked like a small bite, with a hole in the center and pus coming out of it, was giving her trouble and wasn't responding to antibiotics. When a surgeon opened the lesion up, he found an insect with a tapered shape and rows of spines and hooks. Pathologists identified the insect as a human botfly larva, and determined it had been living in the woman's skin.
A 61-year-old man experienced a decline in his thinking abilities, was losing touch with reality and had lost the ability to walk. His family said he liked to hunt, and it was reported that he had eaten squirrel brains, which raised his risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain condition caused by infectious proteins called prions. His MRI scan looked similar to those seen in people with variant CJD, and he later died after his diagnosis.
It was a case that scared dog lovers everywhere when Greg Manteufel landed in the hospital with a dangerous blood infection that was traced back to his dog's saliva. The 48-year-old endured at least 10 surgeries during which doctors amputated parts of each of his limbs because circulation to his extremities shut down due to the infection. His symptoms started with a fever and pain in his legs, with doctors later finding capnocytophaga bacteria in his system. Capnocytophaga is commonly found in the saliva of cats and dogs and that almost never lead to people getting sick. Despite it all, Manteufel said he still loves dogs, and would not be getting rid of his pets.
Sushi lovers, look away. This man's love of raw seafood cost him his left hand and forearm after he developed a fever and excruciating pain in his hand hours after eating the fish. The unidentified patient, who had a history of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and was facing end-stage renal disease, developed large blisters on his hand which quickly spread to the rest of his hand. Despite quick treatment the infection spread up his arm and he was forced to have the limb amputated 25 days after seeking help.
For years, Hector Hernandez heard taunts about his growing "beer belly" despite the fact that he didn't drink. He finally sought help when he realized his legs and arms were growing thinner, but his stomach continued to expand. Doctors discovered his extra weight was actually a 77-pound tumor and removed it, resulting in a 100-pound weight loss just a week later.