YULEE, Fla. -

A Nassau County man is in critical condition in Baptist Hospital as he fights off a bacterial infection. 

George Clarke’s family told Channel 4 Thursday night that he was bitten by a sea crab while fishing in the Nassau River in Yulee. 

Clarke’s family said the 77-year-old is fighting for his life since contracting Vibrio Vulnificus, a bacterium that lives in warm seawater.

“I just thought you get a sore and then it was going to go away, but by that night he was in ICU,” said Clarke’s wife, Shirley. “It’s horrible, it’s absolutely horrible.”

Clarke was cleaning crabs that he caught Saturday when one of them pinched his right thumb. Clarke shrugged off the bite, but in the middle of the night his wife said he woke up in severe pain.

“He woke up at 4 a.m. and he was shaking so bad," said Shirley. "I couldn’t get his temperature. He thought he had the flu. He said his arm from here to here was on fire. When I look at him, I just see all the pain that he is going through with his arm, and it’s all useless.”

Doctors said George contracted the flesh eating bacteria from the river he was fishing in.

“You have to move fast, time is of the essence, you can treat it with antibiotics,” said Baptist Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Om Kapoor.

So far nine people have died from the bacteria and 29 cases have been reported. 

“If someone has liver disease or immune compromised patient, I would suggest not get involved with raw seafood at this time because it can come by eating raw seafood or the contamination of the bacteria from the shell of the crab,” said Baptist Hospital’s Dr. Man-Kuang Chang.

Man-Kuang told Channel 4 that while George remains in critical condition, his outlook is optimistic and that is a glimmer of hope for Shirley.

“I try to holler in his ear, we got an anniversary Tuesday," Shirley said. "We've got to celebrate, but I don't know if he hears me or not. I bet he does. I'm hoping he does. Just everybody pray for him,” said Shirley.