Jeanette LeBlanc went crabbing with friends and family on the Louisiana coast back in September, picking up a sack of raw oysters in a market in Westwego.
But it wasn’t long after when her health rapidly changed.
Texas residents Vicki Bergquist and LeBlanc, his wife, were visiting family in Louisiana.
Their friend Karen Bowers says both she and Jeanette shucked and ate about two dozen raw oysters.
“About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything,” Bergquist said.
“An allergic reaction of sorts, that’s what I would call it. That’s what we thought,” Bowers added.
Jeanette’s condition went from bad to worse in the first 48 hours. Doctors told Jeanette she had vibrio. “It’s a flesh-eating bacteria. She had severe wounds on her legs from that bacteria,” her partner said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people become infected with vibrio after eating raw or under-cooked shellfish or by exposing open wounds to brackish water.
Jeanette had been in contact with both. For the next 21 days, she fought for her life.
“I can’t even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day. Most people don’t last,” said Bowers said.
Jeanette was not able to recover. She died on Oct. 15, 2017. “She was bigger than life,” Bergquist said. “She was a great person, laughed a lot, loved her family, loved her dad.”
Now both Bergquist and Bowers are raising awareness about vibrio, saying they wish they would have known the risks.
“It they really knew what could happen to them and they could literally die within 48, 36 hours of eating raw oysters, is it really worth it?” said Bowers.
“It we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would’ve stopped eating oysters,” Bergquist said.