• Warning: this story contains graphic images

An elderly man in South Korea paid a high price for indulging in sushi when his meal ultimately ended in him losing his hand and forearm.

In a peculiar turn of events, 12 hours after the unnamed man ate the fish his left hand swelled up like a golf ball and became excruciatingly painful, reports the Daily Mail.

Huge blisters and bruising appeared on the South Korean man's hand as a result of a bacterial infection caught from eating raw seafood.

Advertisement

Medics drained the blisters and removed the infected tissue before prescribing the man with antibiotics.

But the treatment was unsuccessful and flesh-rotting ulcers formed on his hand which became so damaged it had to be cut off.

The unfortunate man sought the help of doctors in Jeonju in South Korea, approximately 118 miles south of Seoul, after suffering from a fever and extreme pain in his hand for two days.

The 71-year-old man had large blisters appear on his left hand. Photo / New England Journal of Medicine.
The 71-year-old man had large blisters appear on his left hand. Photo / New England Journal of Medicine.

He explained the large blisters on his hand and his fever had developed just 12 hours after he had eaten seafood, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The blister on the palm of his hand measured 3.5cm by 4.5cm – approximately the size of a golf ball – and others spread across the back of his hand and forearm.

Doctors then diagnosed him with an infection called vibriosis caused by the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria.

And the diagnosis no doubt added insult to injury for the 71-year-old, who also had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and end stage kidney disease for which he was having dialysis.

Rotting ulcers developed despite antibiotics and surgery

Despite medics best efforts – they operated on his hand and gave him two types of intravenous antibiotics – the man's condition got worse again.

Advertisement

He developed deep ulcers on his hand which causes necrosis – the death of living tissue which can spread and cause irreparable injuries.

People with diabetes are at particular risk of complications from skin ulcers because the condition restricts the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin so it takes longer to heal – and sometimes is not able to heal at all.

He developed ulcers which rotted his flesh so badly he had to have his hand amputated. Photo / New England Journal of Medicine
He developed ulcers which rotted his flesh so badly he had to have his hand amputated. Photo / New England Journal of Medicine

Arm was amputated 25 days after eating the seafood

Some 25 days after eating the fateful meal, the man had his left hand and forearm amputated to stop the spread of rotting tissue.

Vibriosis is thought to affect around 80,000 Americans each year – one case per every 4,000 people.

Most people become infected by eating raw contaminated seafood, such as oysters or shellfish, or by exposing an existing wound to seawater containing the bacteria.

Healthy people usually recover within days

Patients with weakened immune systems – as the elderly man had because of his kidney disease – are more at risk of infection and complications.

Most healthy people can recover from being exposed to the bacteria within a few days with no serious complications.

The patient did well after the amputation surgery and was discharged home.