It might sound weird to connect amputation of a limb with that person’s last meal, but this Korean man would find out that everything is possible when it comes to nasty bacteria.
Warning: This article contains images that might be disturbing to readers.
A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine presented the curious case of a 71-years-old Korean man that arrived at the emergency department. Two days and a half before searching for medical attention, he ate raw seafood. For the next two days, he experienced fever and severe pain in his left hand.
At the emergency department, doctors saw the man with a purple swelling on the back and palm of his hand, spreading to the forearm. The man was immediately taken to get surgery and tests of the swollen areas revealed the cause of infection – a flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus.
There are many types of flesh-eating bacteria, but this one is contracted by either brackish water entering an open wound, or eating raw or undercooked seafood – especially raw oysters. The US CDC says that 15-30% of infections are fatal.
The Man Survived The Infection But Lost His Forearm
After the first surgery and antibiotic treatment, the skin lesions started progressing, causing “deep, necrotic ulcers” wrote the report. Twenty-five days after his initial visit to the hospital, doctors decided they had to amputate the infected forearm.
The man also had had diabetes, hypertension, and end-stage kidney disease, for which he was on dialysis, making him more susceptible to a severe infection. The NEJM article stated that, usually, people with immunocompromising conditions are prone to such infections and severe reactions.
According to the CDC, anyone can contact the bacterium V. vulnificus, but people that have liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV or thalassemia will most likely develop complications. People that are on medicine that reduces stomach acid or reduces their immune system are also at high risk.
The CDC recommends people to cook shellfish before eating it. Hot sauce, lemon juice or alcohol will not kill the bacteria on raw seafood either!
Each year, Vibrio vulnificus infects almost 205 people in the US, writes CDC.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere