Category Archives: Public Health Alerts

Gross Picture Day

we haven’t done one of these for a while, so. . .

If you think it looks bad, just wait 'til you get a whiff of the odor.

If you think it looks bad, just wait ’til you get a whiff of the odor.

(And believe me, I could have found far more disgusting pictures.)

An outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa associated with a tattoo/piercing parlor in Rockford, IL is currently under investigation. Pseudomonas is a bacteria that causes some rather nasty, purulent (filled with pus, but there is no such word as pussy, pronounced with the short “u”) infections. So far, there are a total of 12 lab-confirmed cases and 4 probables. The various  county Boards of Health involved in the investigation will submit the samples for genetic testing to see if they are all related. So far, all the cases have been traced to the same tattoo parlor. 6 of the cases needed to be hospitalized, and 10 needed surgery. Infection of the ear can cause permanent disfigurement. The youngest person infected was 13 years old.

So about now you’re asking:

DO I REALLY NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THIS, TOO, DAMMIT?

Well, probably not. Sort of.

If you think of all the ear piercings that go on every day, and then figure how rare infections are, it’s probable that normal ear piercing–done at the mall, pierced through the ear lobe–appears to  carry very little risk.(I haven’t done the research to back this up, but any reader is free to prove me wrong.) All of these cases were pierced through the top of the ear.

What else can I tell you about Pseudomonas?

1. It’s resistant to a lot of antibiotics. It has genes that code for  resistance, it can pick up genes for resistance from other organisms and incorporate them as well, and it has an envelope around it that is hard for antibiotics to penetrate.

2. It’s present in the environment, and often lives in hospital situations.

3. It loves to prey on cystic fibrosis patients and burn victims.

AND WHO THE HELL BRINGS A 13 YEAR OLD TO A TATTOO PARLOR FOR HER PIERCINGS?