Man loses limbs after eating roommate's leftover noodles

·2-min read

A 19-year-old man in the US lost his legs and all 10 fingers after eating his roommate's leftover food and developing an aggressive bacterial infection.

The man, who identified as JC according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, ate a chicken noodle dish his roommate had bought the night before and immediately felt unwell after.

The report said JC worked part-time at a restaurant, had not been travelling recently or had any other exposure to animals or unwell people, and had no known allergies and had received his childhood vaccinations and initially thought it was food poisoning.

Photos of the 19-year-old man who had a rash that spread quickly, resulting in his fingers and legs being amputated.
The 19-year-old had a rash that spread quickly. Source: New England Journal of Medicine

However, he continued to get worse during the night, reporting abdominal pain and vomiting followed by the development of chills, generalised weakness, muscle pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, neck stiffness and blurry vision.

Five hours before he went to the hospital, JC noticed purplish rashes on his skin. He progressively got worse and had to be transported from the intensive care unit of another hospital by helicopter for further treatment.

According to the report, when he was first examined at the hospital his temperature was 37.4C and his pulse was 147 beats per minute.

A few hours later it shot to 40.8C and his pulse was 166 beats per minute, resulting in him having to be sedated.

Fingers and feet developed gangrene

JC's kidneys had started to fail and his blood started to clot. The tissue on his fingers developed gangrene, as did his legs down to his feet meaning doctors had to amputate all of his fingers and below both his knees to keep him alive.

After receiving blood test results from the previous hospital JC was in, doctors discovered he had a bacteria in his blood called neisseria meningitidis, giving him the diagnosis of meningococcal purpura fulminans. Purpura fulminans is a rare complication of meningococcal septicaemia.

Doctors later discovered that JC had received his first meningococcal vaccine when he was 12 but he hadn't had the booster shot recommended at 16.

According to YouTube doctor Dr Bernard, even though this is a meningococcal bacterial infection it doesn't appear to be meningitis, which is the inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that protect the brain and the spinal cord. Instead, the bacteria flooded into his bloodstream.

Dr Bernard described the incident as a "freak accident".

"The evidence appears to point to the food being bad and that is a freak accident," he said.

"We'll never know exactly what happened to it to cause it to have neisseria meningitidis on it."

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