Hurricanes

Louisburg man contracts life-threatening bacterial infection from shrimp

Posted November 5, 2018 7:01 p.m. EST

— A Louisburg man is fighting for his life after contracting a bacterial infection from shrimp given to him by a friend three weeks after Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina coast.

Eddie Clinton didn't even eat the shrimp, his wife said Monday. All he did was transfer it into smaller bags for freezing.

"He took them out of the 10-pound bags and put them in smaller bags, and he put them in the freezer. That's it," his wife, Patti Clinton, said Monday.

Within hours, Patti Clinton knew something was wrong, as her husband was shaking and was slurring his words.

Two days later, Eddie Clinton was on life support and in an induced coma at WakeMed in Raleigh.

"In the first two days, they said he had less than a 1 percent chance to live," Patti Clinton said.

Doctors determined that Eddie Clinton had been infected by Vibrio vulnificus, a harmful bacteria that lives in coastal waters and is more prevalent when the water is warmer.

Vibrio infections can be caused by eating undercooked seafood or by coming into contact with saltwater or raw seafood when you have an open wound. The bacteria can cause a a skin infection or get into the bloodstream and cause more serious problems – one in seven people who contract an infection die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It entered his body and got in the bloodstream. It affected his organs – his heart, his liver, his kidneys," Patti Clinton said.

With the bacteria spreading through Eddie Clinton's body, doctors plan to amputate his left leg on Tuesday.

But they tell Patti Clinton he's lucky to be alive.

She said she doesn't know how much longer he'll be in the hospital, but she's raising money to help cover the cost of his treatment.

The best way to combat Vibrio vulnificus is to cover open wounds if you're in saltwater or brackish water or are handling raw seafood and to wash thoroughly with soap and warm water afterward.