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Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria while fishing near Grand Isle

5 months 3 weeks 5 days ago June 07, 2016 Jun 7, 2016 Tuesday, June 07 2016 June 07, 2016 3:15 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
Image: WDSU-TV

NEW ORLEANS - A New Orleans woman has contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico near Grand Isle.

WDSU-TV reported Kelly Blomberg contracted vibrio vulnificus when she was surf fishing off of the beach last month. Blomberg said she was walking in the water. That’s when she somehow managed to put her foot into a fish’s mouth, causing a cut.

In healthy adults, vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. In individuals with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, the bacteria can infect the bloodstream and cause severe or life-threatening illness characterized by fevers, chills, decreased blood pressure and blistering skin lesions.

Blomberg went to the hospital and began taking a course of antibiotics the day after the incident happened, according to WDSU.

"A week later, my foot was still huge and I'm starting to have, like, dead tissue around my foot so I'm just worried," she said.

Surgery became necessary to remove the dead tissue accumulating in her foot, and Blomberg had to receive a skin graft.

"If you have an open wound and you go into the salt water off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf, you can be exposed to this bacteria. The other way is by eating raw oysters," Dr. Obinna Nnedu, an infectious disease doctor at Ochsner Medical Center, said.

Doctors say people with liver conditions, weak immune systems and high iron levels are more susceptible to the potentially serious effects of the bacteria.

"These individuals are at very high risk of death when they get infected with this organism. Anyone can get infected, but that subset of people can potentially have very serious outcomes," he told the WDSU.

To prevent infection, medical experts advise people always wear shoes and other protective gear while fishing in the surf. Caution should be when handling fish hooks. Finally, avoid going in the water if you have an open wound.

It remains unclear how or why Blomberg’s foot ended up in the fish’s mouth.

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