Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Escaping shrimp infects woman, causes death

FOOD FIGHTS BACK:A seemingly minor injury caused by a shrimp caused a severe infection and the woman died after long treatment and having her leg amputated

By Chang Jui-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

A small wound caused by a live shrimp making a last effort to escape prior to being cooked caused a woman in Greater Taichung to die from the wound it inflicted, after roughly a month-and-a-half of hospitalization and medical treatment.

Family of the woman surnamed Tsai (蔡) said on Aug. 28 she was washing shrimps she had bought earlier that day before preparing them for cooking.

One of the shrimps managed to jump out of the sink and when Tsai bent over to catch it, it made one last leap and inflicted a small wound on Tsai’s right calf, her family said.

Tsai had not been overly worried about the wound because it was so small that it could barely be seen and after rubbing it with povidone-iodine she continued cooking the shrimps, her family said.

Twelve hours later, however, she experienced a swelling in the right calf and was unable to sleep because of the pain, Tsai’s family said, adding that they took her to the Cheng Ching Hospital’s Chunggang branch for medical attention.

The hospital discovered that Tsai’s entire right leg was infected, forcing them to immediately amputate Tsai’s entire right leg.

However, the surgery failed to contain the infection and Tsai was transferred to the Taichung Veterans General Hospital on Sept. 18, but there was nothing doctors could do. Tsai passed away on Monday.

Prosecutors on Wednesday examined Tsai’s body and concluded that the cause of death was septic shock, multiple organ failure and necrotizing fasciitis, according to Tsai’s daughter,

“My mother had no chronic illnesses, at most catching a cold a few times or suffering from hyperchlohydria. According to the diagnosis result, the doctors found traces of Vibrio vulnificus in the wound — the main cause of the infection — but also detected traces of Aeromonas hydrophila in the blood samples,” Tsai’s daughter said.

Commenting on the case, China Medical University Hospital Division of Contagious Diseases division chief Wang Jen-hsien (王任賢) said that Vibrio vulnificus and Aeromonas hydrophila were the “two greatest” viruses in the sea and on land respectively, with the former existing solely in salt water while the other exists only in fresh water.

The most common medium through which people come into contact with the two viruses is through preparing and eating seafood.

The viruses mostly cause small wounds which normally heal by themselves, Wang said.

However, Wang added that if patients with liver cirrhosis were to come into contact with the viruses, they could cause serious complications such as sepsis, adding that in such cases the infection would progress very swiftly and the patient could die within days.

Fong Yuan Hospital’s Division of Contagious Diseases division chief Wang Wei-yao (王唯堯) said both viruses had similar symptoms and development, with an average 30 percent to 40 percent chance of mortality.

If the infections are not treated through surgery immediately, the mortality rate for those infected is very close to 100 percent, he said.

People who have less than sterling liver capabilities — or those with liver cirrhosis — would be in danger if they eat raw seafood or are injured by fish bones or utensils that were in contact with raw fish, he said.

Wang added that if patients with weak liver functions also have a low resistance to virus infections, they could easily become infected and the infection could lead to general sepsis.

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