A 26-year-old man agreed to drink a life-threatening concoction containing the Shigella bacteria, which is usually found in the “poop” of people who are infected. For science and for cash, but Jake Eberts downed a shot-glass amount of the liquid, knowing it could produce a miserable case of dysentery for the sake of research.
Eberts was actually one of 16 healthy young adults that participated in the 11-day inpatient trial at the University of Maryland, as they were testing the effectiveness of a Shigella vaccine, Insider reported.
As far as any symptoms go, Eberts said he did get some and it resulted in the “worst eight hours of my life” but that would not stop him from doing it all over again if he was paid again. For this trial, Eberts earned more than $7,00, according to the university.
After being discharged from the study, Eberts said, “I don’t want to make myself out to be Mother Teresa here — would not have done this for free. It’s a big ask to ask someone to get dysentery. The entire time, I was like, ‘Wow, this is an awful disease.’ And I just got really emotional, probably also because I was just delirious, about the thought of small children in the developing world dealing with this.”
The Shigella bacteria causes 600,000 deaths annually worldwide and there is no vaccine available, but the Institut Pasteur in France has been working on a vaccine that was first tested in Israel. This study in Maryland was part of the current phase-two trials, Insider reported.
For Eberts, he ended up getting one of the worst cases of dysentery, which started about 40 hours after drinking the bacteria. He had cramps and chills at first, but then shifted to a 103-degree fever, diarrhea, and bloody stool. He said, “I truly felt like I could not move. Every movement in the bathroom, to get up to wash my hands or to grab a paper towel, I would lie back down on the ground and just sit there for five minutes.”
He had the medical care there for him to help and was eventually given the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which helped him improve within four hours.
Eberts did catch some attention while live-tweeting his experience and he used that fame to help raise more than $24,000 for the Water Project, which provides clean, safe water to communities around the world, Insider said.