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-yearold
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.
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