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Infections From Tattoos Spark FDA Warnings

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 23, 2012

Previous outbreaks involving infected tattoo inks have been reported in Washington, Iowa, and Colorado.

John Ricci, spokesman for the Monroe County Health Department in Rochester, says health officials "suspect that there are a lot of people who get tattoos who think that those ink products are being tightly regulated and tested.  As a result of this investigation, we have learned that is not the case."

Added Kennedy, "from our perspective at the local level, what this suggests is that even if you go to a parlor and witness practices that meet recommended guidelines, it still does not remove the potential risk, and this is a case in point."

"An environmental health assessment suggested that best practices were generally observed at the parlor where the index patient received his tattoo, and no concerns about hygiene were noted," Kennedy and colleagues wrote in their NEJM article.

"In particular, the artists used sterile instruments, wore clean disposable gloves, poured ink into single-use containers, and provided appropriate aftercare to the tattooed site," they wrote.

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