Cautionary Catfish Tale: Man from Flemington, Mo. nearly dies after getting barbed

Flemington, Mo. It's a cautionary tale for all those who fish in the Ozarks. A man was catfishing with his buddy on Truman Lake. He got so sick, he says he almost died in the hospital.

About a month ago, Charles Loomis and a friend had a trotline. While pulling in catfish, one got him.

"I told Bruce, I think that thing poked me in the knee. We just kept running the lines," said Loomis.

Thirty minutes later, it was bad.

"I told Bruce, 'Boy that knee is really aching'. We had a bar across the table and I was going to raise my foot up and put it on that bar, but I couldn't. I looked down and saw my knee was as swelled up as a volleyball inside my breeches," he said.

Charles says he couldn't walk. He had hallucinations the next morning.

"In my mind, I had been in the garden picking tomatoes and trying to give the neighbor a sack of tomatoes," he said.

His wife called an ambulance. Charles was in the ICU. He says he had fluid in his lungs and stress on his heart and organs. Three weeks later, he still takes several medications. All this, because of an infection.

"The bacteria is called aeromonas, and it's native to fresh water. It doesn't have to be dirty water or brackish water ... anything like that. I've not seen a catfish do this before, but I have seen other soft tissue infections from the same organism from fresh water exposure," said Dr. Eric Fulnecky with Citizens Memorial Hospital.

Loomis believes the catfish barbed his arthritic knee. Doctors say a penetrating wound is the perfect spot.

"I've seen multiple wounds like this were they do get infected just because someone hit their hand on a dock or someone scrapped it," said Dr. Fulnecky.

"I've never hurt so bad in my life. I've never had anything that severe hurt me. If you get poked and it gets angry get to the doctor fast. Don't hesitate. Get there and get it checked out because this thing went south really, really fast," said Loomis.

Charles says he will be fishing and bowhunting by fall. Just to be clear, this bacteria is common in fresh water. This was the perfect storm. Doctors say it's a good reminder for all those folks with compromised immune systems to be careful.