Vicki Bergquist and wife Jeanette LeBlanc were visiting family members in Louisiana in September 2016. The Texas residents went crabbing on the coast and picked up a sack of raw oysters at a village market in Westwego. Not long after, LeBlanc’s health began deteriorating.
Karen Bowers, a friend of the couple, said that she and LeBlanc shucked and ate around two dozen raw oysters, CBS News reports. Bergquist said, “About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything.” Bowers added, “An allergic reaction of sorts, that’s what I would call it. That’s what we thought.”
In the next 48 hours, LeBlanc’s condition worsened. Doctors told her that she had vibrio, a deadly, flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Bergquist said, “It’s a flesh-eating bacteria. She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vibrio can enter a person’s system through uncooked or undercooked shellfish, or by exposing open wounds to saltwater. LeBlanc had been in contact with both.
For 21 days, she fought for her life, but finally succumbed to death o October 15, 2017.
Bowers said, “I can’t even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day. Most people don’t last.” Bergquist said,
She was bigger than life. She was a great person, laughed a lot, loved her family, loved her dad.
Both Bergquist and Bowers are now raising awareness about vibrio, saying that they wish they had known the risk of eating the oysters before the tragedy. Bergquist added, “It we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would’ve stopped eating oysters.”
There have been several cases of people dying of vibrio documented in the past year, mostly from contact with water. Also in October last year, a man in Texas helping with Hurricane Harvey repairs died after contracting the flesh-eating bacteria while cleaning up.