Texas woman dies after contracting flesh-eating bacteria from oysters in Louisiana

Her partner Vicki Bergquist is now working to spread awareness of vibriosis the bacteria that Le Blanc contracted

Her partner Vicki Bergquist is now working to spread awareness of vibriosis the bacteria that Le Blanc contracted

A 55-year-old Texas woman is dead after contracting a flesh-eating disease from raw oysters she ate on a trip to Louisiana.

This is a very rare condition, but it can be deadly.

LeBlanc spent 21 days in the hospital and died on October 15.

While on a trip to the Louisiana coast, Texas resident Jeanette LeBlanc shucked and ate a couple dozen raw oysters purchased from a market only to get sick within days.

"She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria", said LeBlanc's partner, Vicki Bergquist. However, the woman's condition immediately worsened within two days.

Around 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths occur in America every year. The agency estimates about 52,000 cases are the result of eating contaminated food.

The Vibrio bacteria naturally live in coastal waters and are particularly abundant between May and October, when the water is warmer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills.

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One specific form of Vibrio bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, is more unsafe. The CDC said people can also become infected with the bacteria after going swimming in warm seawater with an open wound. But it's very rare: CDC estimates are that there are about 205 cases in the U.S. every year.

"It's a flesh-eating bacteria", Bergquist explained. But flesh-eating disease is one of the most common signs of Vibrio vulnificus, according to one study.

Doctors diagnosed LeBlanc with vibriosis. Still, it's unclear how she was infected.

"If they really knew what could happen to them and they could literally die within 48, 36 hours of eating raw oysters, is it really worth it?" said Bowers. About 1 in 4 people with these serious infections die from the illness.

But it's also possible that wading in brackish water (a mix of salty and fresh) while crabbing could have exposed LeBlanc to the bacteria, especially if she had cuts or scrapes on her legs. Most people who contract Vibrosis can recover after about three days.

Undercooked seafood increases the chance of conracting the bacteria.

While eating raw oysters is commonplace and the risk is low, it is not negligible. Severe cases-like LeBlanc's-can be fatal.

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