Fracking, worksite injuries, and Aeromonas infection
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from the earth using high pressure drilling equipment and fracking fluid that contains proppant and various chemicals. It poses health risks to workers at the drilling sites, has effects on water and air quality, and creates potential health risks for people living near the drilling sites. A 30-year-old man with no past medical history presented as transfer from an outside hospital after an explosion on a fracking job site. This explosion released over 6000 pounds of water that threw him 20 feet across the rig. He had radial and ulnar fractures in his right arm and digital fractures on his right hand. He also had trauma to his left knee and right posterior thigh with a large fluctuant Morel-Lavallee lesion. On day 3 the patient developed hypotension, lethargy, and new onset fever from a possible infection of a hematoma; he was started on norepinephrine and intubated due to a decreased mental status. Cultures from the thigh were positive for Aeromonas species. Aeromonas is a Gram-negative rod that is found in many environments that contain water. Studies have shown that this organism grows commonly in West Texas and New Mexico in river beds and lakes. Healthcare providers should keep Aeromonas spp in their differential list of pathogens in patients with abrasions and open injuries that occurred around or in a body of water.
Keywords: fracking, work site trauma, abscess, Aeromonas species
Williams J F, Lundy JB, Chung KK, et al. Traumatic injuries
incidental to hydraulic well fracturing: a case series. J Burn
Care Res 2016;37(2):e188–92.
McCurdy R. High rate hydraulic fracturing additives in non-
Marcellus unconventional shales. In: Hydraulic Fracturing Technical
Presentation Session 1: Fracture Fluid Formulations and
Purposes. Presented at U.S. EPA Proceedings of the Technical
Workshops for the Hydraulic Fracturing Study: Chemical & Analytical
Methods, Arlington, Virginia, September 28, 2017, p. 1–30.
Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America. Scott Schneider.
Occupational Safety and Health Risks of Fracking Operations.
Published: October, 2013; Vol 10, Num 5. Available at:
Centers for Disease Control. Fatalities among oil and gas
extraction workers—United States, 2003–2006. Morbidity
Mortality Wkly Rep 2008;57:429–31.
Huddleston JR, Zak JC, Jeter RM. Antimicrobial susceptibilities
of Aeromonas spp. isolated from environmental sources.
Appl Environ Microbiol 2006;72(11):7036–42.
Kimbrough RC, Winn RE, Jeter RM, et al. Aeromonas infection
from river and playa lake waters in West Texas and southeastern
New Mexico. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical
Care Chronicles 2016;4(16):19–25.
McKenzie P, Sotello D, Hailemariam Y, et al. Aeromonas veronii
septicemia in an immunocompetent patient. The Southwest
Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles 2013;1(4)50–52.
Koschel S, Manning T, Perera M, et al. Successful split thickness
skin grafting in the presence of heavy colonization with
rare bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila: a case report. JPRAS
Martino R, Santamaria A, Pericas R, et al. Acute rhabdomyolysis
and myonecrosis complicating Aeromonas bacteremia in
neutropenic patients with hematologic malignancies: report
of two cases. Haematologica January 1997;82:692–694.