SYDNEY, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The death of David Dowell, an Australian father of three who ate a small gecko lizard at a party for a dare, has sparked warnings from health experts who have urged the public not to eat "unconventional things".
"You may think it's a harmless joke, but the consequences as you've seen with this gentleman, are just devastating and it's tragic," deputy head of the University of Queensland School of Agriculture and Food sciences, Mark Turner told Xinhua on Thursday.
"These things carry all sorts of diseases, you might think that they are harmless, but in actual fact, they're quite nasty."
Still searching for answers over six months after the tragedy, the sister of the Queensland State man, told local media outlet Fairfax the horrific details of the incident.
"He was very bloated, resembling someone six months pregnant. His urine was black, his vomit was green and, after a few days, he had fluid on his lungs," Hannah Dowell said.
"When I went up and saw him, he was just in absolute agony."
Although it's still not entirely clear whether or not the man did actually eat the lizard, witnesses at the Christmas party said they believe they saw him do it.
"It was a dare, so he might have intended to eat it and then thrown it away," the sister said.
"At the end of the day, we don't know whether he actually ate the gecko. David never mentioned it."
But while it's not been confirmed if he ate the gecko, according to Turner, the man was shown to have a salmonella infection.
"People don't normally die from a salmonella infection, so the reason why this person died of that was very unusual for a healthy adult," he explained.
"It's possible the gecko was carrying salmonella and maybe potentially biting or scratching the person's intestines or stomach, and then maybe the salmonella entered into the bloodstream."
Back in November last year, there was another shockingly similar incident when a Sydney teenager also died after he contracted the parasite rat-lungworm from a slug he ate at a get-together with friends.
"Typically we think of only warm blooded animals carrying pathogens, bacteria or parasites because we don't normally eat these things," Turner said.
"So I think it's probably good that this case has been announced to the media so people are aware of it."
"It just shows that, eating unconventional things can potentially be lethal. I think it's just a warning for everyone."