One of the first things they’ll tell you when you get inked: no swimming for at least three weeks to let the wound heal properly. Well, a 31-year-old man unfortunately lost his life after he reportedly contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection from swimming in the Gulf of Mexico just five days after getting inked.

The unidentified man, whose case was detailed in the British Medical Journal, got a crucifix and a pair of praying hands tattooed on his right calf but did not take precautions in the days after. As a result, he suffered from a fever, chills and a rash before developing sepsis in the same calf, which had turned purple by the time he was admitted to the hospital. Two weeks after he was put on life support with deteriorating conditions, his kidneys failed. Years of alcohol abuse left him susceptible to vibriosis infection and septic shock, doctors reported.

Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the U.S. each year—people get it from unknowingly eating raw or undercooked seafood. In this case, however, it could have been avoided.

Point blank: Listen to directions. Your tattoo artist is nothing like your mother telling you not to swim until you’ve digested—it’s much more serious than that.

Photo: iStock/nycshooter