JaLynn Vidrine remembers getting stuck by a big sheepshead the day before Memorial Day while she and her husband Tommy were in the middle of a serious speckled trout bite along the Belle Pass rocks.
“We were catching like crazy and I didn’t want to bother Tommy for unhooking, so I was doing everything myself,” she said. “It’s the strangest thing. When it stuck me, I said, ‘I hope I don’t get that bacteria,’ but I was thinking about the flesh-eating stuff.”
Thankfully, she didn’t catch the more-serious vibrio vulnificus, or flesh-eating bacteria, but she did contract mycobacterium marinum, which caused painful swelling and redness in the knuckle where she got stuck.
“I woke up the next day and it was swollen, and I didn’t go fishing. Then it started turning purple,” she said. “My friend asked me if I had a tetanus shot lately. I said no, and she told me I should go get it checked.”
Later that week, she went to an urgent care clinic, where the doctor diagnosed the infection and gave her a tetanus shot, an antibiotic shot and a seven-day run of oral antibiotics.
According to MedicineNet.com, mycobacterium marinum is usually acquired from contact with aquariums or fish, with most infections occurring following skin exposure to the bacteria through a small cut or skin scrape.
The prognosis is excellent for a complete recovery with a proper course of antibiotics and follow-up with your physician, according to the site.
To prevent the infection, MedicineNet.com recommends avoiding fresh or saltwater activities if you have open cuts, scrapes or sores on your skin, and washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling or cleaning fish.
JaLynn and her husband are diehard speckled trout anglers on Grand Isle, and she said she’s already taken precautions so she won’t get infected again.
“Now we went and bought a Jus'-Grab-It Glove and we have antibacterial soap,” she said.