Chauvin woman recovering from flesh-eating bacteria

Lois Domangue
Lois Domangue

CHAUVIN, La. - Her hand is still swollen and wide scars run up her right arm, but Lois Domangue finally feels like herself again.

Domangue spent 15 days in the hospital in August after contracting vibrio vulnificus, better known as flesh-eating bacteria.

"There's the cut down here that they did that's so crooked," she says. "I was told that they didn't think it was going to mean anything anyhow. They were just cutting to save my life."

Domange says the bacteria got into her system while she was cleaning crabs that came out of the Boudreaux Canal. Just a tiny pinch on her finger and she was in the hospital less than 24 hours later.

"When I heard them say in the background CCU and that I was critical and they had my feet up and my head down because of the pressure," she says. "I lifted my hand to God and I gave it to him and here I am."

Not everyone recovers from the bacterial infection.

An 83-year old man died from it this summer, leading the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to issue a warning to swimmers.

The bacteria infected at least 31 people in Florida so far this year, killing 10.

According to DHH, the number of cases in Louisiana isn't higher than in previous years. Even doctors in Florida say they're not seeing an increase in the number of vibrio vulnificus infections.

Still, Darrell Domange thinks health officials need to better warn people about the bacteria that nearly killed his mother. It occurs naturally along coastal waters in the hot summer months.

"In the heat of the summer, on your hottest days and stuff, you got your kids in the water, hydro sliding, swimming," he says. "There's no way in the world my kids are getting no where near that water. Not after what I seen."

Lois Domangue is wary about handling seafood again, even after a lifetime of working in and around the water.

"I've peeled shrimp, I've peeled crab, I did it all," she says. "The fishing, my favorite thing to do is fishing. I'm scared to try."