Woman Dies After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria From Oysters

Jan 8, 2018 at 12:32 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

Oysters may be among our favorite happy-hour staples, but for one Texas woman, it turned out to be a deadly indulgence.

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Jeannette LeBlanc was on a trip to Louisiana this past September and enjoyed raw oysters, KLFY-TV reported. Soon after, she noticed a rash and had breathing issues.

“An allergic reaction of sorts, that’s what I would call it. That’s what we thought,” her friend Karen Bowers, who enjoyed the oysters with her but didn't get sick, told KLFY.

This reaction worsened over the course of the next two days and she ended up hospitalized, spending the next three weeks fighting an infection in the hospital. The cause of her infection was a flesh-eating bacterium called vibrio.

LeBlanc was unable to beat the infection caused by the bacteria, and she died on Oct. 21, 2017.

While shellfish is a common allergy, this is an another issue entirely. Vibriosis (the infection caused by vibrio) is generally transmitted via eating raw or undercooked shellfish, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Per the CDC, eating raw oysters “can increase the chance you will get sick with vibriosis.” The CDC says people can also get infected with the bacteria after going swimming in warm seawater with an open wound.

While this is not common, it’s not rare either: Vibriosis causes 80,000 illnesses each year in America, and about 52,000 of the illnesses come from eating contaminated food.

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Ultimately, if you do see a rash or any sort of physical distress after eating anything, raw shellfish or otherwise, see a doctor immediately.

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