A Texas man got a new crucifix tattoo on his leg recently, which is nothing really unusual in itself. However, a swim in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after getting the tattoo ended up taking his life. BMJ Case Reports published a study on the man’s experience, showing shocking images of the man’s infected skin from the flesh-eating bacteria, prior to his death. The man is unnamed but was reportedly 31 years of age and Latino.

A tattoo is basically an open wound, susceptible to infection

As reported by CNN, the man had chosen to ignore one of the main rules when getting a new tattoo.

As a tattoo is technically an open wound, easily susceptible to infection, he should have avoided soaking it. However the tattoo, in combination with a chronic liver disease suffered by the man from heavy drinking, ended up developing the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus. According to Dr. Nicholas Hendren, lead author on the study, the bacteria caused septic shock, leading to the failure of his kidneys and the man’s eventual death.

Man suffers effects of flesh-eating bacteria 24 hours after swimming

However, what was particularly shocking was how quickly his condition had deteriorated.

According to the Metro, the man went swimming five days after getting the new tattoo and he was in the hospital 24 hours later on life support. He soon developed chills and a fever as the result of vibrio vulnificus, along with a rash close to the new tattoo. He also suffered a lot of pain in his right leg. The man did start to improve, leading to doctors being optimistic of his chances, but he then regressed, dying of organ failure two months later.

The flesh-eating bacteria is normally found in oysters

The study did say that most healthy people would not die from vibrio vulnificus. However, the study authors did say the case reveals how dangerous an infection can be for patients with liver disorders and also anyone who gets a new tattoo.

It was also stated that the most serious infections in the U.S. occur from the ingestion of raw oysters on the Gulf Coast, as most of those oysters reportedly harbor the flesh-eating bacteria.

When it comes to tattoos, most doctors reportedly recommend that when getting a new one, it is necessary to avoid any swimming or strenuous activities for at least two weeks, making it difficult for anyone who wants to continue their normal, active routine. However, anyone viewing the graphic images of the infection suffered by this man would get a clear warning not to swim after getting that new tattoo.

According to Hendren if you do choose to get a new tattoo, do this wisely. Use a licensed business to get it done and treat the tattoo like you would any other wound.