Flesh-Eating Bacteria From Oysters Linked to Death in Texas

Fresh oysters on wooden tray food background

A woman's crabbing trip in Louisiana turned tragic after she died from a flesh-eating bacterial infection health officials say came from eating raw oysters.

According to her friend, Karen Bowers, LeBlanc became ill after the two of them went crabbing and then bought a sack of raw oysters from a market near Lafayette, Louisiana, which they both consumed, according to KLFY. Both LeBlanc and her friend, Karen Bowers, consumed almost two dozen oysters, but only LeBlanc began experiencing respiratory problems about a day and a half after the meal. An infected oyster is also indistinguishable by smell or taste.

Bowers added, according to the television station, that it first appeared to be "an allergic reaction of sorts, that's what I would call it. That's what we thought", Bowers told KLFY.

While media reports are calling this a flesh-eating bacteria, it's important to note that this is not one of the bacterial groups listed by the CDC as causing necrotizing fasciitis, the skin infection that destroys the body's soft tissue. "(She) had a rash on her legs and everything".

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people become infected with vibrio after eating raw or under-cooked shellfish or by exposing open wounds to brackish water.

LeBlanc and doctors fought the bacteria for 21 days until she died on October 15, according to KLFY-TV.

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"I can't even imagine going through that for 21 days".

Most headlines have focused on raw oyster consumption, since people can contract the condition by eating raw seafood that's infected with V. vulnificus.

Reflecting on her partner and the life they shared, Bergquist said, "She was a great person, laughed a lot, loved her family, loved her dad".

Her family is now trying raise awareness about the disease, which is a risk whenever you choose to eat raw seafood and is something you won't know you have until its potentially too late.

While eating raw oysters is commonplace and the risk is low, it is not negligible.

"She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria", Bergquist said. Infections most often occur when waters remain warmer, from May to October.