A father-of-three ate a gecko for a dare at a party and died in “absolute agony” 10 days later.
Mr. Dowell had began to vomit green bile, his urine turned black, and his stomach leaked fluid and got so bloated it looked like he was pregnant.
Over 6 months on, his family have said the cause of his death is yet to be confirmed and they have been searching for answers, especially regarding what happened at the party.
His daughter Hannah told the Brisbane Times:
“There has been no evidence that he actually ate [the gecko] because there was: ‘Oh yeah I saw him eat it’. And then: ‘No, I didn’t see him eat it.’ It was a dare, so he might have intended to eat it and then thrown it away.”
However, when when Dowell’s partner Allira mentioned to the doctors that he may have ate a gecko at the party, they said it could have been what caused the illness.
When he first felt ill, paramedics did not want to take him to hospital as they believed he had a case of gastroenteritis or a bad hangover.
Less than 2 weeks after the gecko dare, he died in surgery.
Allira says that the attention around this situation has been distressing and she doesn’t want him to only be remembered for how he died.
“I didn’t want him remembered like this, I want to remember the happy times,” she said.
Normally salmonella, a type of bacteria that causes a lot of food borne illnesses, is not fatal but can cause intense diarrhoea, painful stomach cramps and fever.
Mark Turner, deputy head at the University of Queensland School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, says it’s possible the gecko was the cause of the death as salmonella can be carried by a wide range of animals including turtles, snakes, frogs and geckos.
He told the Brisbane Times:
“It’s possible that if the gecko was eaten, as it was being digested, the salmonella was released, but I have never heard of anything like this before”
Mater Hospital, where Dowell was treated, gave a statement which said that due to patient confidentiality, it could not comment on the cause of death.
They added that the “case was referred to the coroner, who determined Mater had provided appropriate care and no further action was required.”