With her granddaughter acting as translator, Olga Serrano described the agony she has endured since cutting her left index finger while preparing fish to eat.
"She was screaming," said Leslie Soltero, her granddaughter. "And she's a really tough woman, so it was painful."
Twelve days ago, Serrano shopped at the Asian Food Center in Bellevue. She selected a tilapia that was swimming in the fish tank. She noticed the tank wasn't very clean, and there were dead fish at the bottom. She bought the fish anyway.
Serrano said the fish didn't smell.
"No. It didn't smell. It was alive when he took it out of the tank."
Even after cutting her finger, she ate the tilapia. But the next day, she began to get very sick.
"She says the pain was unbearable," said her granddaughter.
Doctors told Serrano her finger was infected with the bacteria, vibrio vulnificus, which can be life threatening.
Serrano showed how the bacteria seemed to move up her left arm, infecting it along the way. Serrano also uses the arm for her kidney dialysis treatment.
Serrano was in the hospital for five days. She is still in pain, she said, but can't afford the medication.
Serrano says she won't shop at the market again. She is talking now "so that other people know what happened and know the risk," she said.
Health officials warn anyone who got sick after coming into contact with raw fish to seek medical attention. They are also working with the feds to find out where the contaminated fish came from.
Cox Media Group