Afula hospital saves man from deadly pond fish bacteria

Doctors saved the man’s foot, whose infection resulted from Vibrio vulnificus bacteria that thrive on pond fish.

October 28, 2013 04:51
2 minute read.
Shlomo Lankri in his bed at Emek Medical Center

Shlomo Lankri in his bed at Emek Medical Center 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Emek Medical Center)


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A 64-year-old Upper Nazareth man almost lost his foot when he was “stabbed” by the bacteriainfected fins of a live tilapia (a.k.a. amnoon, musht and St. Peter’s fish) he had put in a bag after purchasing it to take home for dinner.

Emek Medical Center in Afula reported on Sunday that doctors had saved man’s foot, whose infection resulted from Vibrio vulnificus bacteria that thrive on pond fish.

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Shlomo Lankri was discharged and sent home over the weekend after two months in the hospital that included two operations.

He had arrived at the hospital with a high fever and significant swelling and blood-filled blisters on his left foot. Tests showed he had a severe infection. His family told the doctors that a few hours earlier, Lankri bought tilapia fish in a store where he would shop fish once a week. When the live pond fish was put into a bag, it turned on him and scratched Lankri on the foot with his fins.

He did not take the injury seriously, but when he felt unwell, he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.

Vibrio bacteria are very dangerous, and the Health Ministry from time to time – especially before the High Holy Days when fish consumption is very high – not to take home live pond fish or killed fish without the fishmonger first completely removing their scales and fins. Only frozen, cleaned fish are recommended.

Lankri was taken to the operating theater to remove dead tissue so the bacteria do not continue to spread through his body.

A week ago, Emek orthopedists and plastic surgeons transplanted healthy skin onto his foot, and it “took.” He will still have to undergo a long period of recovery.

Dr. Biviana Hazan, head of the infectious disease unit at the hospital, said the bacteria thrive in fish pond water and are virulent.

People who touch uncleaned fish and have open sores on their hands or feet can be infected; even the water, without the fish, can cause an infection, she added.

In recent years, a number of people had to undergo amputation of limbs as a result of Vibrio infection.

Without immediate care, the injury can be fatal.

Dr. Naiel Basharat and Prof. Raul Raz from Emek first described Vibrio in 1996. The microbes had not been known in Israel or anywhere else in the world until then.

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