A 66-year-old man in Taichung nearly died after drinking raw blood from deer and softshell turtles, Chen Hung-chih (陳虹志), a nephrologist at Asia University Hospital, said on Thursday.
The patient, surnamed Chu (朱), was showing signs of septic shock, as well as multiple organ failure, when he arrived at the hospital, Chen said.
Chu had no previous history of diabetes or other chronic conditions, and exhibited no noticeable signs of infection in the lungs or the skin, although he did have a mild case of bacilluria, Chen said, adding that Chu had also not traveled abroad in the past six months, so his condition was very odd.
During his first two days of hospitalization, Chu did not respond well to broad-spectrum antibiotics, Chen said, adding that after running a blood culture, they discovered that the septic shock was caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of Escherichia coli (E coli).
After Chu’s condition stabilized, his family told Chen that he had been hanging out with friends and that the group had drunk raw deer and softshell turtle blood, adhering to a traditional belief that doing so would make them stronger and more virile.
While Chu’s friends also showed signs of fever, they did not suffer as severely as Chu, perhaps because they had laced their raw blood with kaoliang liquor, Chen said.
Citing a 2008 National Taiwan University study, which concluded that river water in Taiwan contained traces of antibiotics and other medicine, Chen said that, although he could not be sure, the E coli infection might have been due to the softshell turtle being raised on a turtle farm, as farms often use antibiotics to prevent animals from getting sick.
While E coli is native to the human intestinal tract, it can infect the urinary tract or other parts of the body, Chen said.
Chen said that the antibiotic-resistant strain of E coli had probably entered Chu’s body and developed into bacteremia, causing septic shock.
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