Can eating raw fish make you sick? According to a medical report, just 12 hours after eating raw seafood, a man developed fever and excruciating pain in his left hand.
Two days later, he was rushed to hospital emergency with a purple bubble-like swelling measuring 3.5 cm by 4.5 cm, on the palm of his left hand. The back of his hand and forearm were swollen too and similarly discoloured.
The man had been infected with flesh-eating bacteria after eating contaminated raw seafood. What followed next was terrible…
Can Eating Raw Fish Make You Sick?
The incident happened in South Korea, and was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The 71-year-old man was infected with a “flesh-eating” bacteria known as vibrio vulnificus.
To save his life, doctors had to perform emergency surgery to drain the blister. The fact that he had a medical history of diabetes, hypertension, and kidney failure made things even more complicated.
After surgery, he was given antibiotics, but the skin lesions progressed to deep necrotic ulcers. Doctors had no choice but to amputate his left forearm after 25 days.
Dangers of Vibrio Vulnificus Bacteria
Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, also referred to as “flesh-eating” bacteria, can enter the body through the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked seafood, as well as through wound exposure to contaminated seawater. Some people also get vibriosis from swimming in contaminated water with an open wound.
It can cause skin infections and septicemia (blood poisoning).
Patients with immuno-compromising conditions, including chronic liver disease and cancer, are at increased risk of infection and complications.
Symptoms of a Vibrio vulnificus infection include:
- Serious illness, with a rapid decline in health
- Watery diarrhoea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
- Skin infection after an open wound is exposed to salt water
- Bloodstream infection, with fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, blistering skin lesion, and sometimes death
Prevent your risk of Vibrio vulnificus infection by following these tips:
- Cook all shellfish before eating it, including oysters.
- When ordering sushi from a restaurant make sure that you choose a reputable restaurant.
- Always refrigerate seafood properly. Do not leave seafood outside for more than two hours.
- Stay out of brackish or salt water if possible if you have a wound. Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.
- Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after exposure to brackish or salt water, or raw seafood or its juices.
- If you develop a skin infection, tell your doctor if your skin has come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.