Back in spring 2015, when a woman from San Antonio, Texas called Karen Goode, dined at a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen storefront in south-central Texas, she claims that the red beans and rice she ate contaminated her body with New World screwworms.
New World screwworms are parasites that lay their eggs in open wounds of warm-blooded mammals. The maggots, upon hatching, infest the mammal and begin to feed on the host mammal’s flesh, causing potentially fatal damage.
Several decades ago, in the 1950s, the USDA embarked on a project to eradicate New World screwworms from the country. It was costing the agricultural industry millions of dollars because the screwworms kept infesting livestock, rendering them useless.
The USDA bred millions of young screwworms, then shot the larvae with gamma and X-rays that would render the flies infertile. Once these modified screwworms were released into the wild, soon enough, the entire screwworm population was unable to produce more young, causing the fly to vanish from the United States.
But for this woman, she was perhaps just the victim of incredibly poor timing.
Not long after she had eaten at the Popeye’s storefront, authorities discovered a deer that had been infected by the New World screwworm in Florida.
For Goode, this screwworm discovery is helping fuel her attempt to file a lawsuit against Popeyes and its franchisee Z&H Foods for serving her food infected with the parasite.
Over the past two years, Goode has suffered tragically because of the screwworms that infected her body. The worms entered her digestive tract and laid eggs along the interior lining of her small intestine.
Upon hatching, the maggots began to eat Goode “from the inside out.”
Every day, Goode loses “massive amounts of blood and tissue” because of the screwworms that are continuously “eating themselves out of her body.”
According to Goode’s attorney, “She’s just hoping she can heal and get healthy.”
Popeyes has released a statement that says it is working with Goode to address the issues she raised in her lawsuit. At present, however, the company doesn’t think that it was their meal that caused Goode to become infested with screwworms.
“The franchisee has worked with outside parties who have found the claims to be uninformed and false,” said one company spokeswoman. “We can also assure you that the side dishes at this local Popeyes and all Popeyes restaurants have a strict standard and are cooked and maintained at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that would make it impossible for bacteria or other foreign matter to survive the cooking process.
“Popeyes makes food safety a top priority,” the statement continued, “and we put the safety and welfare of our guests first, so we will continue to investigate this matter.”
However, Goode continues to press on the matter.
In her lawsuit, she details on the medical struggles she went through: She was infected with E. coli and Helicobacter pylori; she had to have surgery performed on her neck and even suffers from paralysis in one of her arms.
Goode’s lawsuit asks for $1 million in damages from medical expenses, as well as “pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.” Stay tuned for updates on Goode’s lawsuit in the future.
We’re wishing this woman the best of health and a full recovery.