Tattoos, Swimming in the Ocean, and Raw Oysters: Deadly Combination

It’s not difficult to see people with tattoos these days – this form of body art is so commonplace, it’s understandable how some people have problems with properly following through with proper aftercare.

According to BMJ Case Reports, a 31 year old man paid dearly for this mistake: he went for a swim in the ocean too soon after getting a new tattoo. Just a few days after his swim, he got feverish, and blisters formed on his tattoo, and he passed away of septic shock a few days later.

The man contracted Vibrio vulnificus – a bacteria commonly found in sea water and raw oysters, and even though he went through round-the-clock supervision with powerful antibiotics, it wasn’t enough to save his life.

His death was caused by a few elements. First was his tattoo, which essentially is an open wound. Secondly, the bacteria is common in sea water and raw oysters. While most people manage to overcome bacterial infections, this man had chronic liver disease, which made him much more susceptible to the bacteria.

Any good tattoo artist would advise against swimming in the open seas, and eating raw oysters for at least 2 weeks to avoid infection. Also, current health guidelines suggest that folks with chronic liver disease should avoid swimming in the ocean and eating raw oysters if they have open wounds – these include anything from large gashes to even tiny paper cuts.

Since tattoos have been around since 12,000 B.C.E. and are not going away any time soon, it’s essential to ensure that they’re fully healed before any exposure to bacteria. Or get yourself checked up for any potential liver problems.