A Texas woman who became ill after eating raw oysters in Louisiana died three weeks after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria that ravaged her body before finally taking her life. (WARNING: A photo below is graphic)
Jeanette LeBlanc, 55, died in October 2017 after becoming ill when she and a friend went crabbing and purchased some raw oysters, according to Daily Mail.
Doctors diagnosed LeBlanc with vibriosis, which according to the CDC, propagates in brackish water and can be contracted by consuming raw oysters.
Typical symptoms of vibriosis include diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills. Severe cases -- like LeBlanc's -- can be fatal.
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 ate, according to KLFY.
Bowers said she and LeBlanc shucked and ate about two dozen raw oysters. Nothing seemed awry at the time.
"About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything," LeBlanc's wife Vicki Bergquist said.
At that point, the pair suspected the outbreak was merely an allergic reaction on LeBlanc's skin. But it rapidly became apparent that something more serious was developing.
Within the next 12 hours, LeBlanc became seriously ill. She was admitted to the hospital, where her condition rapidly deteriorated.
"It's a flesh-eating bacteria," Bergquist explained. "She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria."
For the next three weeks, LeBlanc fought the invasive infection until her body finally gave out.
"I can't even imagine going through that for 21 days. Most people don't last," Bowers said.
Reflecting on her spouse and the life they shared, Bergquist said, "She was a great person, laughed a lot, loved her family, loved her dad."
Both Bowers and Bergquist say they are dedicated to raising awareness about vibrio in memory of LeBlanc, saying that they now understand the hazards associated with consuming raw or undercooked seafood.
"If we had known that the risk was so high, I think [LeBlanc] would’ve stopped eating oysters," Bergquist said.
According to the CDC, it is impossible to tell if an oyster is infected with vibrio bacteria simply by looking at it. An infected oyster is also indistinguishable by smell or taste.
Dousing oysters with hot sauce or lemon or consuming them with alcohol also will not protect from the vibriosis bacteria. Most outbreaks occur between the months of May and October.