If You Notice This After Eating Seafood, See a Doctor Immediately
This unusual symptom could be a sign of a potentially deadly infection.
Eating seafood in the summertime is a beloved pastime, whether you're at a seaside shack or in the comfort of your own backyard. We're so accustomed to slurping down oysters and chomping on tuna tartare that we often forget the potential dangers of infection that come with consuming seafood that hasn't been cooked thoroughly. If you're eating raw or undercooked seafood, you run the rare but serious risk of contracting deadly diseases. Read on to learn about one symptom you should be on the lookout for.
Purple blisters can be a sign of a flesh-eating disease from raw shellfish.
Recently, 50-year-old Patrick Baker in Indiana ate a batch of oysters from the store, and three days later was rushed to the emergency room. He has now been hospitalized for nearly a month. According to The Herald Bulletin, Baker experienced flu-like symptoms a couple of days after eating the oysters. Baker's wife implored him to seek medical care as "his infection became more noticeable in his legs, where he developed purple blisters and experienced a growing pain," The Herald Bulletin reported.
As it turns out, Baker contracted a flesh-eating disease from the oysters. Per the newspaper, he was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis caused by a bacteria that lives in the water known as Vibrio vulnificus.
Other signs of this disease include swelling, pain, and fever.
According to the CDC, there are other signs of necrotizing fasciitis that you should know, because symptoms of the disease often spread quickly and can be confusing. Common signs of necrotizing fasciitis include a red, warm, or swollen area of skin that spreads quickly; severe pain; and fever. The agency urges you to seek medical attention immediately if you notice these symptoms, especially if you've recently had surgery or an injury.
The later symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis are a bit more gruesome, and can include "ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin, changes in the color of the skin, pus or oozing from the infected area, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea or nausea."
The infection can come from eating raw or undercooked seafood.
There are multiple bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, but the CDC says most people get infected with Vibrio bacteria specifically after eating raw or undercooked shellfish, most commonly oysters. However, certain Vibrio species can also cause a skin infection if an open wound is exposed to salt or brackish water. It's also possible for the bacteria to lead to an infection if raw seafood or raw seafood juices come in contact with an open cut.
To reduce the chances of getting infected with Vibrio bacteria, the CDC suggests avoiding raw or undercooked shellfish. Additionally, "if you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), avoid contact with saltwater or brackish water or cover the wound with a waterproof bandage."
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About 80,000 people in the U.S. are infected with the bacteria each year.
The Vibrio bacteria results in about 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the CDC. While some people only experience diarrhea and vomiting, others experience more severe illness, like Baker, and a handful require intensive care or limb amputation. The risk of contracting this illness may be higher during the warmer months. Per the CDC, the bacteria is "present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer."