New research could reveal the best treatment for shark bite victims

Doctors take on sharks in the name of research

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - 200 feet underwater Anthony Segrich hunts for cobia. What he doesn't know is he is about to become prey.

"I looked down and there was just a mouth open, as soon as it latched on, you know you're being eaten," said Segrich.

A large bullshark bit down on Anthony's leg five times as it rocketed him to the surface.

"I wasn't so much pain as it was crushing force. I could feel its teeth all the way down to the bone," said Segrich.

Two years later, Anthony is not only talking about it, he's walking. That's something his doctor never thought he would do.

"His story is incredible because this happened way under the surface, it gives me chills to think about his story," said Dr. Robert Borrego, who treated Anthony back in June 2011.

When Anthony was rushed to Saint Mary's Medical Center he was given antibiotics to fight infection.

"The fact that a sharks mouth is dirty with bacteria, those wounds are prone to infection," said Dr. Borrego.

Patients can suffer kidney damage from using multiple antibiotics. So Dr. Borrego launched a study to pinpoint which kinds of bacteria live inside a sharks mouth - to help determine which antibiotics to use.

"Currently we use two to three antibiotics, hopefully with this bacteria data we can shrink it to one antibiotic to use for our patients," said Dr. Unger, who is administering the study alongside Dr. Borrego.

Hired anglers are catching sharks off local beaches, so the doctors can swab their mouths for samples. Then the sharks are then released back into the water.

So far samples have been taken from 22 sharks. If their research can help reveal the one antibiotic to use - survivors could spend less time in the hospital. Anthony spent five weeks recovering in a hospital bed.

"The more targeted they can be, the better the chances infection won't set in," said Segrich.

Anthony is back in the water these days. He says he's staying a bit further away from the bull sharks.
 

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