A Texas woman died of a flesh-eating bacteria after eating raw oysters that she and her family had picked up at a market in Louisiana, KLFY-TV reported.
Jeannette LeBlanc and her wife Vicki Bergquist were crabbing and visiting family in September and got a sack of oysters from Westwego, a city near New Orleans. Their friend, Karen Bowers, said she and LeBlanc shucked and ate about two dozen of the oysters, the station reported.
“About 36 hours later, she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything,” Bergquist said.
They thought it was an allergic reaction, but within 48 hours LeBlanc’s condition worsened. She developed wounds on her legs from the bacteria, and doctors told her that she had vibrio, KLFY reported.
Humans can contract the bacteria by eating under-cooked shellfish or getting contaminated water in a cut or open wound. The bacteria is commonly found in warm, brackish and saltwater during the summer months and can also be found in raw or under-cooked shellfish. LeBlanc had been exposed to both.
She battled the bacteria for 21 days, but died Oct. 15, KLFY reported. Bergquist and Bowers are hoping to raise awareness of the risks.
People with a weakened immune system, such as those with liver disease or cancer, or people receiving immune-suppressing therapy are more likely to get an infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Seafood consumption accounted for 63 percent of vibrio exposure cases in Louisiana between 1988 and 2016. Skin to surface water contact was 37 percent of the cases, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health.
In June, a Dallas man died after he became infected with the bacteria while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. The bacteria entered his body through a new tattoo on his leg, according to a case report.