The flesh-eating bacteria vibrio vulnificus has claimed another victim. This time, it was a man from Dallas, Texas who died from the infection after swimming in the ocean. However, he made a fatal mistake before going swimming.
According to doctors who treated him at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the man had gotten a leg tattoo just days earlier. He was warned not to go into bodies of water, but he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and was infected by the flesh-eating bacteria. A pre-existing medical condition compounded his mistake.
According to an article recently published in BMJ Case Reports, the 31-year-old man died after the bacteria vibrio vulnificus entered his body through a new leg tattoo.
Treating physicians, including Dr. Nicholas Hendren of UT Southwestern Medical Center, say the man arrived at Parkland Memorial Hospital three days after exposure with extreme pain in his leg.
“Very quickly, over a couple of hours, it began to get more discolored, more bruised and had large blisters that began to form, which was certainly alarming to us as it was to him,” Hendren said.
Hendren’s report says the man had chronic liver disease and told them he drank six beers a day.
People with a weakened immune system, a liver disease/condition or an iron-related disorder are especially vulnerable to serious infection from the bacteria.
Most cases, however, are mild and come from consuming raw oysters, Hendren said.
“The most common symptoms in healthy or mild infection are just some nausea, some vomiting, some diarrhea,” Hendren said. “For severe infections, like our patient, extreme pain, rapid changes in skin discoloration, rapidly changing wounds within a matter of hours are all signs that there is a potentially serious infection going on.”
The reports says the man was extubated on the 18th day of admission and began aggressive rehabilitation.
“Unfortunately, his clinical status subsequently deteriorated, ultimately leading to his death due to a myriad of complications related to cirrhosis, renal failure and necrotic skin lesions approximately 2 months after admission,” Hendren said.
Dallas tattoo artist Caleb Barnard did not know the victim, but he says the incident should serve as a reminder about tattoo safety.
“Stay out of the ocean. Stay out of the river. Stay out of the lake. Stay out of the pool. Stay out of the hot tub,” Barnard said, about caring for a fresh tattoo in the first two weeks.
“If you adhere to what we tell you do to, you shouldn’t have any problems at all,” he said.
Here is video of the man’s story from KXAS Channel 5 in Dallas.
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