A 20-year-old student from Belgium has died after eating five day old pasta.
The Brussels-based student, referred to as ‘Patient AJ’, was known to cook up a large batch of pasta on a Sunday. He would then divide the pasta into individual containers, which he would go on to eat throughout the week.
Sometimes, AJ would leave a portion of his pasta out in the kitchen by accident, which he would proceed to eat the following morning.
AJ reportedly left some pasta out on the kitchen side for two days. He would have usually thrown it away, but his flatmate – who assumed it had been left out for just a few hours – placed the container in the fridge.
By the time AJ reheated the pasta in the microwave, it was five days old. He noticed a strange smell but apparently assumed this was due to a new type of sauce he’d used.
After finishing his meal, AJ began to suffer from stomach pains, bloating, severe flatulence, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Licensed practitioner Dr Bernard, who examines unusual medical cases on his YouTube channel, Chubbyemu, has recently looked into the events leading up to AJ’s death.
Dr Bernard explained how AJ drank a bottle of stomach medicine before going to bed, hoping that this would help him feel less nauseous.
However, at 3am AJ was once again throwing up in the bathroom sink. His flatmate, Bradley, found AJ lying on the bathroom floor, with a ‘sickly green’ shade discolouring the whites of his eyes and skin. This, as explained by Dr Bernard, suggested damage to the liver.
Bradley called emergency services, and AJ was taken to the hospital, where it was found he was suffering from hypoglycaemia, or ‘low sugar presence in blood’.
According to Dr Bernard:
Hypoglycaemia by itself is a relatively nonspecific problem. It means that you could have several different problems that could be causing it.
But given that the liver is the most immediate source of stored sugar, then this developing hypoglycaemia could give us a biochemical basis for explaining his fulminant liver failure.
According to Dr Bernard, a likely metabolic problem was developing inside AJ’s liver. This led to the formation of fatty deposits which stop vital liver functions.
Dr Bernard said:
We can assume here that AJ’s food poisoning from rotten pasta is likely from some kind of bacterial, maybe fungal source, but something’s wrong.
Typically, food poisoning just causes stomach inflammation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. It doesn’t typically cause acute liver failure, and even worse, we can’t find out which bacteria is causing the problem because culturing it would take days.
Days that AJ doesn’t have because his liver is quickly shutting down.
AJ was found to have a limited response to antibiotics, with liver enzymes found in his bloodstream having revealed parts of his liver had begun to die. Furthermore, blood was found in his urine, suggesting the beginning of kidney failure.
It was not possible for AJ to get a liver transplant in time, and the young man tragically passed away.
AJ’s autopsy identified the spore forming bacteria, Bacillus Cereus, as the causative agent. This bacteria is known to cause gastritis and, according to Dr Bernard, those affected by it can recover.
However, in AJ’s case, a protein known as cereulide, which can be produced by some strains of Bacillus Cereus, was also detected.
Cereulide – which diffuses through cell membranes with ease – produces excess potassium, an ion which can prove extremely toxic for the human body.
According to Dr Bernard:
Human intracellular fluid is potassium rich, meaning it gives this toxin sufficient resources to perform its ionophoresis, incessantly pumping potassium into the mitochondria.
This eventually overloads the ability of mitochondria to perform oxidation required to produce ATP for energy, therefore preventing the use of glucose and fats.
Dr Bernard also noted how the bottle of stomach medicine AJ drank after eating the pasta resulted in a ‘dual blockade of ATP’.
Find out more from Dr Bernard here
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.