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Tattoo Ink Contamination Infects Many

Update Date: Aug 23, 2012 12:13 PM EDT

Whether its to cover old scars, serving as a permanent memorial for something loved and/or lost or simply a way to express yourself, the popularity of tattoos has grown to trend-emic proportions with 1 in 5 adults claiming to have at least 1 tat. Now, a new case of ink-rashes is spreading as fast as the the trend itself and the source, AP reports, is the ink.

22 confirmed cases of bubbly,itchy ink-blotched skin rashes have erupted in the past year with more than 30 suspected cases of the skin infections in Colorado, Iowa, New York and Washington State, according to health officials.

The same source reports that in the largest case yet to be reported 19 people in Rochester New York were said to have had the rash. The outbreak can be traced back to an unidentified tattoo artist, however investigators report that his hands were gloved and all his equipment was and is sterilized.  

AP quotes  Dr. Byron Kennedy, deputy director of the health department in New York's Monroe County as claiming that getting a tattoo regardless of the artists reputation is dangerous.

"Even if you get a tattoo from a facility that does everything right, it's not risk free."

Tara MacCannell, who led a related investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that companies responsible for bottling "gray wash"  which used to create shade or shadow for a tattoo use distilled water to brighten the ink which may have bacteria. AP notes that gray wash was used in the all the New York cases reported. 

"Investigators found the bacteria in opened and unopened bottles of ink at the New York tattoo parlor. They did not find it in water at the shop, MacCannell said."

Though parlors fill new ink containers with "hazel or an alcohol preservative" as a way to prevent infections, some bacteria still live. 

Source: The Associated Press

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