Woman’s Family Share A Warning After She Died From Eating Oysters

Vicki Bergquist / Gulf Coast Weekend

Warning: Some of the pictures in this story are graphic.

The family of a Texas woman are trying to raise awareness after her sudden death caused by an unlikely source.

Jeanette LeBlanc, 55, was as healthy as any other woman her age before being rushed to the hospital. Last September, she went on a crabbing boat trip with her friends and family. The event was supposed to be a way for LeBlanc to take her mind off of looking after her sick father.

LeBlanc (in the blue hat) on her fateful crabbing trip.Jennifer Bergquist

On the way home from the trip, LeBlanc and her wife Vicki Bergquist picked up a sack of fresh oysters from a fish market. This proved to be a fatal mistake.

Just two days after preparing a seafood meal for her friends, LeBlanc was in the hospital. Less than a month later, she was dead.

Jennifer Bergquist

“I’m a very optimistic person," Bergquist said, "so I kept thinking that she was gonna make it. She was such a fighter through the whole entire process.”

What killed LeBlanc was a little-known disease called vibriosis, and her family is sharing information about the disease to prevent more deaths.

Vibriosis is caused by the vibrio bacteria, which lives on raw seafood. The CDC says 80,000 Americans catch vibrio each year, either from uncooked seafood or by getting seawater in a wound.

LeBlanc's doctors blame the 24 raw oysters she ate for causing her vibriosis, but she also cut her hand while shucking the oysters.

On her first day in the hospital, LeBlanc was still in good spirits.Vicki Begquist

Less than 100 people are killed by vibriosis in America each year, and LeBlanc's friends and family were optimistic at first. After waking up with a nasty rash, LeBlanc noticed she was having trouble breathing. Her first day in the hospital wasn't so bad, but Leblanc's condition quickly deteriorated.

Vibrio is a flesh-eating bacteria.KLFY

“It progressively got worse," LeBlanc's stepdaughter Jennifer remembers. "They told us that her legs were getting worse. It was like her skin was dying. It looked like something was eating her skin.”

Bergquist is hoping others will remember her wife's story as a tragic example.

LeBlanc and Bergquist in happier times.Jennifer Bergquist

“If 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?” she told People.

I had never even heard of this disease, had you?

[H/T: People]