A Texas woman died late last year after she consumed raw oysters she purchased while visiting the Louisiana coast, only to contract a horrific form of flesh-eating bacteria that left her devastatingly ill within days of eating the tainted shellfish.
Jeanette LeBlanc and wife Vicki Bergquist were visiting family in coastal Louisiana in September when they visited a market in Westwego, KLFY-TV reported. There, they decided to purchase a sack of raw oysters, of which they later shucked and ate about two dozen.
“About 36 hours later, she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything,” Bergquist said.
Family friend Karen Bowers said that everyone assumed LeBlanc was suffering from a minor malady at first.
“An allergic reaction of sorts, that’s what I would call it. That’s what we thought,” she said.
It wasn’t long before LeBlanc’s condition had worsened significantly enough for her to seek medical attention. Doctors revealed that she had actually contracted vibrio, a form of flesh-eating bacteria that is typically transmitted via raw or undercooked shellfish or brackish water – both of which LeBlanc had come into contact with.
“It’s a flesh-eating bacteria. She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria,” Bergquist said.
LeBlanc’s health deteriorated rapidly over the next three weeks, and on October 15th, she passed away.
“I can’t even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day,” Bowers said. “Most people don’t last.”
Bergquist and Bowers are now hoping that they can save other people from transmitting flesh-eating bacteria by spreading what they learned from their nightmarish experience.
“If we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would’ve stopped eating oysters,” Bergquist said.