Tacky 'Jesus is my life' tattoo proved deadly for Texas man

Tacky 'Jesus is my life' tattoo proved deadly for Texas man June 8, 2017

Just months after getting a religious tattoo, a 31-year-old man from Texas died after he fell victim to flesh-eating bacteria.
According to a paper published in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, the patient – identified only as a Hispanic man – was admitted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas with severe pain in both legs and feet. He also had fever, chills, and a reddening over his tattoo and other areas of his skin.
Five days after getting a leg tattooed the man decided to go for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico – breaking a cardinal rule.
Fresh tattoos are to be kept clean and covered and should not be immersed in any type of water to avoid infections. It’s unclear from the report whether the patient was aware of these instructions.
Three days after his swim, he went to the hospital complaining of severe pain and redness and irritation over and around his tattoo.
Lead author Nicholas Hendren, MD, said:

Within the first 12 to 24 hours his pain and discoloration in the leg advanced and developed what’s called bullae or fluid-filled blisters.

Doctors diagnosed the man with septic shock due to an infection with vibrio vulnificus, potentially deadly bacteria found in certain coastal waters that are present in higher concentrations in warmer months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vibrio causes 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year in the US. Most people become infected by eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, but exposing open wounds to brackish or salt water can also put a person at risk of infection.
People with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are more likely to get vibriosis.
According to the case report, the patient had a history of cirrhosis of the liver and drank six 12-ounce beers daily.
Within 24 hours of admission, his condition declined with progressive septic shock and multi-organ system failure. Doctors put him on life support and treated him with aggressive antibiotics. Despite initial improvement, he continued to suffer complications related to cirrhosis, renal failure and necrotic skin lesions. He died two months after he was admitted to the hospital.
Doctors say that most healthy people who contract vibrio won’t end up in the hospital because their immune system is strong enough to fight it off. However:

All patients with chronic liver disease and haemochromatosis [excessive iron level in the body] should be instructed to avoid raw oyster ingestion and avoid swimming in seawater with open skin wounds,

Additionally, anyone getting a tattoo should follow all care instructions closely to ensure safety. Hendren said:

For patients who get new tattoos, it’s really important to listen to the recommendations. Usually the tattoo parlors will provide clients with information about avoiding taking baths, avoiding swimming, definitely avoiding swimming in the ocean because that fresh wound is an entry way for bacteria, so keeping it clean is very important.

Another rule is to give talentless tattooists, such as the one who inked the unfortunately Texan, a very wide berth.


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  • Paul

    Oh dear.
    Oh well positively thinking, he’s with him now.
    Hold on!
    Are people with tattoos allowed in heaven?
    Must be a ban on that in the babble – surely?

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Leviticus 19:28 says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you.”

  • L.Long

    Finally a record of a xtian being punished by his psychopathic ahole gawd for violating one of his dimwitted commandments. It’s a miracle!!!!

  • Vanity Unfair

    It’s not even a good copy.
    Incidentally, on swimming-related matters and assuming that the tattooed date is standard US-wrong-way-round, 3rd. May, 1810 was the date Byron swam the Hellespont. Co-incidence? Well, yes.

  • John the Drunkard

    Well, ‘tattoo’ has to be translated from Hebrew here. What word is in the original? Still, the current interpretation is that it DOES mean tattoos in eh Tahitian/Maori sense.
    A man with cirrhosis who drinks 6 beers a day is already committing suicide. And I just bet the ‘six’ was just what he was willing to report.

  • Angela_K

    Bible says no Tattoos. Man has Tattoo and dies because of it. Therefore, in the mind of the religious, that would be “proof” that god exists.

  • DOM

    Leviticus 19:28 – “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

  • Robster

    Another documented faith failure!

  • 1859

    No, the bacteria won. They exploited to the full the evolutionary niche they inhabit. By natural selection, they get to live on and breed, the man gets to feed more bacteria and worms, jesus or no jesus.

  • Smokey

    “Jesus is my life”
    That’s some heavy-duty irony right there.

  • All sympathy to this man’s family and friends.

  • Ernesto Allen

    “Jesus saves!” NOT!

  • latsot

    It’s not even remotely clear that the tattoo had anything to do with the illness. The story, as reported here, suggests that is not the most likely source.

  • latsot

    Also, why not link to or at least reference the paper in BMJ Case Reports that supposedly reports this incident?
    I have a feeling there’s been a skepicism fail here.

  • remigius

    @latsot. Here is the link to the BMJ report. They also think it was due to a contaminated tattoo…
    However, as you believe that the tattoo was not the cause I suggest you contact the BMJ – stating your qualifications and field of medical expertise and ask that your own findings be submitted to their rigorous peer review process.

  • latsot

    The abstract clearly states that chronic liver disease was the primary factor. But perhaps that doesn’t tell the story you’d like it to. Suit yourself.

  • barriejohn

    BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-220199
    Reminder of important clinical lesson
    Vibrio vulnificus septic shock due to a contaminated tattoo

  • remigius

    I apologise for my lack of reading comprehension, latsot. When the BMJ reported ‘…septic shock due to a contaminated tattoo.’ I mistook it to mean septic shock due to a contaminated tattoo.
    It’s an easy mistake to make.
    Right, sarcasm aside. The BMJ report does not clearly state that chronic liver disease was the primary factor. It suggests that the liver disease was an aggravating factor.
    The primary factor was the infection of V. vulnificus via the exposed wound of the tattoo.