Tattoo ink implicated in outbreak of skin rashes

The New York Daily News reports, “Authorities say contaminated water used in tattoo ink caused a mysterious outbreak of nasty skin rashes in upstate New York.”

Monroe County, NY health “officials found 19 people who had been tattooed at the same location – all with gray ink – and experienced skin infections,” even though artists at the Rochester tattoo parlor were adhering to proper health protocols.

So, “officials reached out to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control to sample and test the ink,” which “turned out to contain Mycobacterium chelonae, a rare bacteria that is a form of the germ that causes tuberculosis.”

No Regulation Requiring Sterility Of Tattoo Inks Exists.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “If you’re among the 21% of American adults who have tattoos, you might be surprised to learn that there’s no law or regulation that requires tattoo inks to be sterile.”

In fact, “the Food and Drug Administration, which has oversight over the inks, treats them like cosmetics and says only that ink manufacturers must use ingredients that have received pre-market approval.”

However, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now calling for higher standards. In this week’s edition of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a group of public health experts writes: ‘Because tattoo inks are injected intradermally, CDC recommends that ink manufacturers be held to higher product safety standards, which should include production of sterile inks.'”

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