ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) - Almost two dozen people in Rochester who went in for new tattoos ended up with a nasty skin infection. But this outbreak isn't blamed on dirty needles.
Getting inked has become much more popular recently. The percentage of American adults with tattoos has gone from 14 percent in 2008 to about 21 percent now. It's even become a mother-daughter activity.
Annette Gross, who was getting a tattoo with her daughter on Valentine's Day, said, "We do a lot of things together, so I could not say no to her!"
But there are risks associated with tattooing. One is that you might change your mind, but another is that you might get sick.
Infections related to tattooing, such as hepatitis and staphylococcal skin infections, have been with us for a long time and are usually attributed to dirty needles or other unsanitary techniques.
But an outbreak in Rochester last fall occurred in the clients of a well-run tattoo parlor where sterile precautions were observed. Nineteen people developed a rash where the tattoo had been placed.
The infection was caused by an organism called mycobacterium chelonae, a relative of the germs that cause TB. It was traced to a supply of contaminated grey ink that came from a specific supplier in Arizona.
The FDA does not have the authority torequire pre-market safety data from the manufacturers, so although this is a rare event, there could be more outbreaks in the future.
The way to avoid becoming infected is to get your tatoos at a place that can confirm their inks have been tested and treated to eliminate infectious contaminants.
The victims in Rochester have all received antibiotic treatments and are on their way way to recovery.
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