Oh no. Oh no no no.
A 55-year-old woman has died from a flesh-eating bacteria after eating 24 raw oysters. The woman, a Texan by the name of Jeanette LeBlanc, got sick after going crabbing in Louisiana with friends and family in September.
“About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything,” her wife Vicki Bergquist told local media.
Doctors told LeBlanc that she was infected with vibrio, a strain of bacteria found in oysters and other seafood.
“It’s a flesh-eating bacteria,” said Bergquist. “She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria.”
According to Queensland Health, vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in marine and estuarine waters, and is harmless to the majority of most people.
In some cases, it can cause watery diarrhoea, often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Severe illness is rare, but does cause about 100 deaths in the United States each year.
It also causes a skin infection where an open wound is exposed to brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt water), which is what caused the severe ravaging to LeBlanc’s legs.
Warning: the next few images are pretty graphic.
LeBlanc died 21 days after contracting the infection.
“I can’t even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day,” her friend, Karen Bowers, who ate the same oysters, told media. “Most people don’t last.”
Both Bergquist and Bowers are raising awareness about vibrio, saying they wish they’d known about the risks.
“If they really knew what could happen to them and they could literally die within 48, 36 hours of eating raw oysters, is it really worth it?” said Bowers.
“If we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would’ve stopped eating oysters,” said Bergquist.
Although vibrio has been dubbed a “flesh-eating” bacteria, the term isn’t quite right, vibrio researcher Gabby Barbarite, PhD, told Health.com in 2015.
“The words flesh-eating might make you think that if you touch it, it will degrade your skin on contact, and that’s not true,” she said. “You have to have a pre-existing cut—or you have to eat raw, contaminated seafood or chug a whole lot of contaminated water—for it to get into your bloodstream; it can’t break down healthy, intact skin.”
In 2017, the British Medical Journal released a report that detailed the death of a 31-year-old man who caught the infection via his fresh tattoo, while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Moral of the story: be real, real careful with open wounds and warm waters, capiche?Image: Facebook