A Texan woman has died from a flesh-eating bacteria after eating raw oysters from a market.
Jeannette LeBlanc spent 21 days in hospital in September last year before succumbing to a deadly infection on 15 October. Doctors had diagnosed her with Vibriosis, which can be contracted from eating raw shellfish and exposing open wounds to river water. Before eating the oysters, she had been crabbing on the coast.
LeBlanc started to show symptoms within 36 hours and had a reddish rash on her leg. She was also struggling to breathe. Her partner, Vicki Bergquist, is now trying to raise awareness about Vibrio through kify.com. "About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything," Bergquist said.
"She was bigger than life. She was a great person, laughed a lot, loved her family, loved her dad. If we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would've stopped eating oysters."
A friend, Karen Bowers, had also indulged in the oysters but was unharmed. Bowers said the first signs of LeBlanc's illness suggested an allergic reaction. "An allergic reaction of sorts, that's what I would call it. That's what we thought," Bowers said. "I can't even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day. Most people don't last.
"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?"
What is Vibriosis?
Vibrio is a bacteria that lives in coastal waters and are more prominent in warm water between May and October. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 strains of the bacteria can cause human illness, which are called Vibriosis.
The most common method for contracting Vibriosis is eating undercooked or raw shellfish. Exposing open wounds to brackish water (a mixture of fresh and salt water) can also lead to the disease.
Around 80,000 people fall ill from Vibriosis each year. People who recover are usually fine within three days, however those who do not could require amputation of limbs. The strain Vibrio vulnificus claims one in every four people.
To avoid contracting Vibriosis, never eat raw shellfish and always properly bandage wounds if you need to walk in brackish water.