Getting pricked while washing and cleaning prawns is nothing new to a lot of us. However, for one man in Singapore, a simple prick turned into a nightmare when he had to have his finger amputated after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria from the prawns.

Pricked his hand while washing prawns

According to a report by Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Wanbao yesterday, that the man’s finger was pricked while he was cleaning prawns he had bought from a wet market.

The victim, who was unnamed, said he had been pricked by prawns many times before and thought this time was no different.

But by the next day, his finger had turned black and he had a mild fever.

He went to a 24-hour clinic in Toa Payoh and was told to go to a hospital immediately. The man underwent surgery to amputate a part of his right index finger that evening and was warded in the hospital for seven days, including two days in the intensive care unit.

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He said doctors told him that if he had waited another day, he could have lost his arm or even died as the bacteria had reached his armpit. He warned other people to be careful when cleaning raw prawns or seafood.

Flesh-eating bacteria in seafood

Flesh-eating disease, or necrotizing fasciitis, is caused by bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics, and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Symptoms include the affected area turning red or swollen, severe pain, and a fever.

A family physician told Wanbao that being pricked by fish or crustaceans would usually not lead to complications. But should the injury become serious or if a fever develops, the person should immediately seek medical attention.

Another doctor told Wanbao that while such situations are not common, they can happen when handling marine animals.

Both doctors said that once the flesh-eating bacteria enter the body, they can spread quickly and cause complications and, in serious cases, even death.

Text: Adeline Tan / The New Paper