A young man who developed sepsis after eating a leftover lo mein meal needed multiple amputations and suffered organ failure, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The case was published in March 2021, but is only getting attention now after a YouTube user created a video based on the case last week. The video has quickly garnered over 1 million views.
According to the NEMJ report, a 19-year-old man was fine for almost 20 hours after eating the meal, which included rice, chicken, and lo mein, and was prepared at a restaurant. After that, he began feeling abdominal pain, nausea, and began vomiting. Other symptoms included worsening diffuse myalgias, chest pain, shortness of breath, blurred vision, a stiff neck, and a headache. Five hours before he was admitted to the hospital, his skin began turning purple.
The patient was eventually taken to the pediatric intensive care unit that Massachusetts General Hospital. Once there, the man was treated for organ failure, shock, skin molting, and a “rapidly progressive reticular rash.” At the hospital, doctors learned that the patient’s friend ate the same meal and admitted to vomiting once, but the friend’s condition did not worsen. The patient had no known drug allergies and lived in northern New England.
After blood and urine tests, the patient was diagnosed with Neisseria meningitidis, a potentially deadly bacterial infection that caused his blood to clot and liver to fail, reports Newsweek. His skin necrosis was caused by “purpura fulminans,” a rare complication from meningococcal septicemia. Doctors learned the man only received one of three doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine and had only one dose of the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. The CDC recommends two or three doses of that vaccine.
The necrosis of the patient’s arms and legs, as well as the development of gangrene, led doctors to amputate parts of all 10 fingers and amputations of his legs below the knees. However, the patient’s recovery has been “mostly good,” doctors concluded.
Bacteria can quickly grow in food kept at room temperature. That is why it is important to put leftovers in a refrigerator no less than two hours after it was taken away from a heat source, notes WebMD. The idea that food should be left to cool off before putting in a refrigerator is a myth.