Cluster of ear piercing infections reported in Winnebago County - – Rockford’s News Leader

Cluster of ear piercing infections reported in Winnebago County


The Winnebago County Health Department is reporting a cluster of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in people who have recently had their upper ear cartilage pierced at a Rockford shop.

There have been nine cases identified, six of which were admitted to a hospital, seven of which had to have an incision to drain the abscess. Individuals affected range between the ages of 13 and 39 and had their ears pierced at a Rockford shop between late-May and July 9 of this year. The shop was not identified by the Winnebago County Health Department.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterial infection that could carry the potential for permanent disfigurement. Symptoms could include redness, swelling, or pain after the piercing, especially in the upper ear. Anyone with those symptoms should immediately contact a doctor as well as call their local health department to report the infection.

The shop in question was inspected by representatives of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Winnebago County Health Department on July 17 and July 15. The owner has voluntarily suspended all piercing operations.

The Winnebago County Health Department recommends anyone interested in piercings should make sure the shop is registered with the state and the person performing the piercing has washed their hands and is wearing protective gloves. The jewelry should be properly sterilized and should not have any scratches or irregular surfaces. After the piercing, you should perform the following steps:

  • Wash your hands before touching the piercing, avoid touching it unless you're cleaning it
  • Staying healthy will help the piercing heal faster
  • Choose showers over baths because baths can harbor bacteria; if you go in the bathtub, clean it well before and after each use and rinse the piercing when you get out

Individuals in Winnebago, Boone, and Ogle counties have been affected. The contact information for the counties' health departments is as follows:

  • Winnebago County Health Department: 815-720-4000
  • Boone County Health Department: 815-544-2951
  • Ogle County Health Department: 815-732-7330
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