DALLAS (1080 KRLD) – A North Texas widow has words of caution for some seafood lovers, stay away from raw oysters.
Vicki Berquist and her wife Jeanette LeBlanc of Quinlin were in Louisiana last September where they bought a bag of fresh oysters from a seafood market after going crabbing with some friends.
Jeanette ate some of them, not knowing there was a potential of the bivalves containing the deadly bacteria Vibrio, a bacteria that is primarily found in warm gulf waters.
Vicki says had to go somewhere else that night, but when she returned the next day she says Jeanette was already in extreme respiratory distress and had a rash on her legs.
Vicki rushed Jeanette an hour away to a hospital in Baton Rouge where Jeanette was diagnosed with Vibrio and put on anti-biotics.
Her skin blistered and she had wounds on her tongue. Doctors worked for nearly 36 hours straight trying to stabilize her.
“But the bacteria is so aggressive it kills the kidneys. They had to start her on dialysis,” said Vicki. “It really worked on her liver and did a lot of damage. It really, really wracked her body.”
Vicki says two weeks into her struggle Jeanette had the first of three surgeries to remove dead tissue caused by the bacteria.
“After the first, she did ok” said Vicki. “After the second she struggled a little bit. But after the third surgery she never really rallied back. It was just too much.”
Jeanette died 21 days later on October 15th.
The CDC estimates that Vibrio causes 80,000 illnesses each year in the United States. Most people will develop food poisoning symptoms and recover, but those with compromised systems, Jeanette for example had gastric bypass which affected her digestion, are at the most risk.
Vicki’s advice? “Don’t eat raw oysters, period, ever…because you can for sure die. And they should say that on menus” she said. “In the hospital we were in – I know of two other deaths this year from people who had oysters at brand name, big name restaurants.”
They went to Louisiana to take care of Jeanette’s elderly parents….Vicki is going to stay for awhile “It’s also giving me time to be with them, for us to be able to grieve together and be sad together.”