Raw Oysters

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

A Panama City man is fighting for his life at a local hospital. The family of 45-year-old James Palmer claims he contracted a blood infection after eating raw oysters late last week.

A Wewahitchka mom says that's the same infection that killed her son last Friday. Now, she is speaking out so others can learn from his death.

Thirty-nine-year-old Dennis Sharron went to the hospital Tuesday, Nov. 2. He died Friday, almost one week since he had eaten raw oysters. Sharron's mother, Helen, says the doctor knew immediately what was wrong.

"He asked Dennis had he ate oysters or been in the water where they were, and he told him he had this bacteria."

The doctor said he had vibrio vulnificus, a naturally present bacterium that lives in warm saltwater. By Wednesday they had to amputate both of his legs because the bacteria had spread so fast.

Sharron's sister-in-law, Pam Amley, says she has learned more about this bacteria than she ever wanted.

"This bacteria breeds in saltwater. It's highly deadly and you can get it not only be eating raw oysters, by entering the water where there's a bed infected with it. You can get it through a cut."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a healthy person should just get food poisoning symptoms if you eat an oyster contaminated with this bacteria. Sharron's mother says the whole family eats oysters. Dennis really loved them the best.

"He's ate them all his life and he's ate them often, you know. I mean, he was an oyster eater, he ate them raw."

Sharron's family says he was healthy, but according to the CDC, those with a poor immune system or liver problems are much more likely to die from the blood infection caused by vibrio.

Amley says she may have eaten raw oysters before, but this was a tough way to stop.

"I would suggest if you choose to eat oysters, don't eat them raw," she says.

As for James Palmer, doctors have already had to amputate one of his legs to save his life. They may have to amputate the other to prevent the bacteria from spreading.


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