Man Loses Left Arm After Getting Flesh-Eating Bacteria Infection From Raw Seafood

Warning: Photos near bottom of page are quite graphic
August 30, 2018 Updated: August 30, 2018

A South Korean man got his left forearm amputated after developing a fever and terrible pain hours after eating raw fish.

The patient had a history of type 2 diabetes, renal disease, and hypertension, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. He developed blue blisters on his hand and it spread.

“A 71-year-old man presented to the emergency department with a 2-day history of fever and excruciating pain in his left hand that had developed 12 hours after eating raw seafood,” the journal said.

Doctors identified the infection as vibrio vulnificus, a type of flesh-eating bacteria. “At the time of presentation, hemorrhagic bullae measuring 3.5 (1.3 inches) by 4.5 cm (1.7 inches) had developed on the palm of his left hand,” said the journal in an abstract of the study.

“Surgical intervention was performed urgently, and Vibrio vulnificus was isolated,” the journal also stated.

Vibrio vulnificus “can cause skin infections after wound exposure to contaminated seawater, as well as primary septicemia through the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked seafood,” such as sashimi.

“Patients with immunocompromising conditions, including chronic liver disease and cancer, are at increased risk for infection and complications. Despite treatment, the skin lesions progressed to deep necrotic ulcers, and amputation of the left forearm was performed 25 days after presentation,” the journal also added. “The patient did well after the surgery and was discharged home.”

Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses as well as 100 deaths in the United States annually, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, according to Fox News.

In Florida in 2015, Vibrio vulnificus killed two people: one in Brevard County and another in Marion County. The bacteria is known to thrive in areas of warm water not limited to lakes, rivers, and oceans, although most cases are reported in Gulf Coast states.