Vibrio vulnificus septic shock due to a contaminated tattoo

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The authors report a lethal case of septic shock in a patient with pre-existing chronic liver disease subsequent to leg tattooing and then seawater exposure in the Gulf of Mexico.

Title: Vibrio vulnificus septic shock due to a contaminated tattoo.
Industry Significance Rating: High - Industry alert, report has major implications related to health and safety.
Publication: BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-220199.
Authors: Hendren N, Sukumar S, Glazer CS.
Links:  Article Link Link to Publisher Search Google for Sources & Quotes

Clients who have major medical conditions such as chronic liver disease may be more susceptible to infections after skin penetration services and if infections do occur they may be significantly more serious.

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that is know to be capable of causing septicaemia particularly in those with pre-existing medical conditions such as hepatic disease,
Vibrio vulnificus is found in seawater, estuaries and brackish pools of water and is often associated with shellfish and plankton.

Vibrio vulnificus may cause aggressive infections such as cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis, in susceptible individuals infections may become systemic and potentially life threatening.


Clients who disclose that they have major medical conditions should be advised to seek medical advice/consent prior to skin penetration services such as tattooing and if medical consent is provided additional precautions may be required upon the advice of their treating doctors.

All clients should be informed about the risks of exposing the skin to untreated or potentially contaminated water
after any form of skin penetration procedure (e.g. rainwater, groundwater, and other untreated water supplies, as well as swimming or bathing in pools and spa's, rivers, lakes, dams or the ocean).


body art tattoo, systemic infection, cellulitis, fatality, adverse reactions, septic shock

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