Louisiana woman dies from flesh-eating bacteria after eating raw oysters

Screen Shot 2018 01 08

"About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything", LeBlanc's wife, Vicki Bergquist, told CBS affiliate KLFY-TV.

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.

"Patients with liver disease, for example, cirrhosis, secondary to alcohol use, secondary to chronic viral hepatitis infections, they're 80 times more likely to have the blood stream infection than people who don't have those conditions", Lopez said.

People can become infected with Vibrio by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, the CDC said. Vibrio can't be detected and is found even in unpolluted waters, so there is no way of knowing whether your appetizers may have the bacteria. The woman was infected with Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria.

There are approximately 80,000 vibriosis infections in the United States every year, according to the CDC.

Jeanette LeBlanc died on October 15, 2017 after battling the infection for three weeks. Most people recover after a few days.

Bergquist said, "It's a flesh-eating bacteria".

Lopez says it's important to know that cases like Leblanc's are rare.

So does this mean that everyone should swear off oysters?

Melie Nasr
Melie Nasr

Seafood is a staple along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Enjoying a trip to Louisiana at the end of September, Jeannette Leblanc indulged in some raw oysters.

Now both Bergquist and Bowers are raising awareness about vibrio, saying they wish they would have known the risks.

Anyone can get sick from vibriosis, but it's rare.

In a podcast about eating raw oysters, the CDC explained that anyone is susceptible to getting ill from eating raw oysters.

"For most people, eating raw oysters carries only a risk of mild illness, but for others, the consequences can be unsafe and even deadly", explained Dr. Duc Vugia, chief of the Infectious Diseases Branch at the California Department of Public Health, on a CDC podcast in 2013.

There have been several cases of people dying of vibrio documented in the past year, mostly from contact with water. "If you've got those symptoms, you need to get to the emergency room right away and get treated".

People with vibrio vulnificus may need intensive care or limb amputation. Cook them before eating. "You need to have high, sustained temperatures to kill the organism".

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