Teen Has Legs Amputated After Leftover Noodles Trigger Deadly Condition

The case of a 19-year-old student who developed sepsis and lost his legs as a result of eating leftover food has gone viral thanks to a YouTube video.

The video, which has been viewed over 900,000 times, describes the case of the man from New England, identified only as "JC." The case was first reported last March in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The authors of the study reported that JC was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) as a result of "shock, multiple organ failure, and rash."

Upon admission to Massachusetts General Hospital JC had a severely high temperature of over 105 F and a heart rate of 166bpm, higher than the average heart rate that results from vigorous exercise for his age.

After the patient was sedated he developed a purplish rash and was airlifted to the PICU of the hospital. The rash soon spread to JC's face, chest, abdomen, back, arms and legs, only sparing his palms and the soles of his feet. This was an indication his skin was dying.

The necrosis of his arms and legs and the development of gangrene led to amputations of parts of all 10 of JC's fingers and amputations of his legs below the knees.

The authors continue: "The patient had been well until 20 hours before this admission when diffuse abdominal pain and nausea developed after he ate rice, chicken, and lo mein leftovers from a restaurant meal."

What followed were episodes of vomiting accompanied by chills, weakness, chest pains, headaches, neck stiffness, and even blurry vision. When his skin became discolored around five hours before admission, a friend decided to take him to the hospital.

A friend who had eaten the same meal told staff at the hospital that he had vomited once afterward, but hadn't become progressively sicker.

Following blood and urine tests, the young man, who worked part-time in a restaurant and was staying with a friend for five days following admission to college, was diagnosed with a potentially deadly bacterial infection called Neisseria meningitidis, which caused his blood to clot and his liver to fail.

JC's skin necrosis was the result of a condition called "purpura fulminans"—a rare and severe complication of meningococcal septicemia.

Doctors discovered that JC had only received one of three doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine without a booster, and had also only had one dose of the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine out of two or three doses recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The authors of the paper conclude by saying that JC recovery from his condition has been "mostly good."

Making Leftovers Safe

Bacteria can grow quickly in food left at room temperature according to WebMD, which recommends to reduce the risk of food poisoning leftover food should be refrigerated no later than 2 hours after it is taken from a heat source like an oven or warming tray.

The website adds that the fact that food has to be left to cool before being refrigerated is actually a myth, and hot foods can be placed directly in a refrigerator.

If people want to cool their meals more quickly WebMD suggests dividing foods into small portions and placing them in leak-proof bags in bowls of ice water.

With regards to leftover takeaway food, WebMD suggests not waiting until food smells to throw it out as bacteria can often not be seen or smelled. The website also advises against eating cold leftover takeaway food.

It says: "To kill dangerous bacteria, you need to heat food to 165 F. The best way to tell if it has reached that temperature is with a food thermometer.

"Put it in different places, especially the thickest or deepest part, because dishes can cook unevenly." According to the USDA, 165 F is hot enough to kill bacteria and viruses.

Noodles.
A stock image of a man eating noodles. A student lost his legs and fingers after suffering an infection brought about by the consumption of leftover food. toncd32/GETTY