Father of three dies days after reportedly eating gecko on a dare

BATAM, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 12 : A Gecko lizard seen smiling on December 12, 2018 in Batam, Indonesia.   It is very difficult to get a lizard with a smiley face and tongue out, it takes a long time and often passes because the moment is only a fraction of a second.  PHOTOGRAPH BY Sijori Images / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read YULI SEPERI / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
An Australian father was diagnosed with salmonella and died in December after eating gecko. (Photo: YULI SEPERI/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

An Australian man who allegedly ate a gecko on a dare during a Christmas party was in "absolute agony" before he died ten days later from a salmonella infection attributed to the lizard.

David Dowell, a 34-year-old man from Brisbane and a father of three, was taken to the hospital just two days after his friends allegedly dared him to eat a gecko at the holiday party.

Allira Bricknell, Dowell's partner of 15 years, told 7News.com.au that she is still searching for answers regarding his tragic death six months later.

"It was a dare but I don't know if it was a serious one, I was paying attention but not really because it was a Christmas party and the kids were invited," Bricknell said. "We don't know 100 percent how he passed but on the actual death certificate, it did say ingestion of a gecko, so I'm assuming it was that."

Dowell's initial symptoms, according to the outlet, was vomiting, massive abdominal swelling and fluid in the lungs. His family said that doctors explained he had "basically rotted from the inside out."

On December 4, Dowell was diagnosed with salmonella. On December 11, he had died. Bricknell and Dowell's family believe that his conditions were not taken seriously by medical staff until he ended up in the intensive care unit in a coma.

"It was coming out both ends and he was really sick and the moment he started throwing up and it was green, that's when they rang the ambulance," Hannah Dowell, Dowell's sister, told The Sydney Morning Herald. "When they got there, the [paramedics] didn't even want to take him [to the hospital]. They said he just had [the stomach flu] and [Bricknell] said, 'No, you've got to take him; it's not just [the stomach flu].'"

"I didn't want him remembered like this, I just want to remember the happy times," Bricknell told 7News.com.au. "I am really concerned about our three children, I want to protect them, I don't want people harassing us because of this."

While many know the dangers of eating contaminated food, few realize that reptiles can also carry salmonella, despite appearing healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reptiles should be kept out of the kitchen or anywhere food is prepared, served, or consumed. Furthermore, they warn against allowing children younger than five, people with weakened immune systems, and older adults handling reptiles.

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