Bad Tattoo Ink Caused Infection Outbreak in New York

    August 23, 2012
    Sean Patterson
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A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine this week shows that an outbreak of bacterial skin infections in upstate New York is linked to a bad batch of tattooing ink. The outbreak of Mycobacterium chelonae infections occurred in the Fall of 2011 around the Rochester, New York area. The infection caused raised rashes on at least 19 people’s tattoos.

The study, which was a joint effort between the Monroe County Department of Public Health, the New York State Department of Health, the University of Rochester medical Center, Clinton Crossings Dermatology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration, began when a dermatologist notified Rochester officials of a Mycobacterium chelonae infection in one of his patients. The common link of the tattoos was determined, and the cause was tracked to a gray ink used by a single tattoo artist in Rochester.

The artist had purchased the ink from a supplier at a tattoo trade show in Arizona. Investigators inspected the manufacturer’s operation, but did not find contaminated materials. The manufacturer voluntarily recalled the bad batch, and the unopened samples of the ink that investigators were able to test also contained the bacteria.

18 of the 19 patients that were identified as having the infection were treated successfully with antibiotics. The 19th “declined evaluation and treatment.”

The CDC states that bacterial contamination of tattoo ink can be caused by contaminated ingredients, poor manufacturing practices, or dilution with water that isn’t sterile.

  • Sarah Carl

    This is my dad!! My father had a tatoo done in Lebanon, pa! He suffered for weeks with a horrifying rash that covered his body! He was admitted to the hospital and had to have massive treatments and wraps to sooth his pain and had to have the tatoo removed!! He is suffering from after effects still to this day!! Who do we contact to report this??

    • http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1124433-overview Mark

      First thing is, your Dad has an allergic reaction to the ink, not this infection. I’m going to guess your dad had red or blue in the tattoo. About .8% of the people have reactions to these colors, red by far the most common in these cases. See the attached website.

    • Libturd

      Maybe your dad shouldn’t have price shopped.

  • Salad Spinner

    Call ghost busters Sarah.

    • http://gmail.com Ryan White

      Yeah sarah, call your dad and the ghost busters pronto!

  • ruhroh

    Well end customer gets the shit end of the stick…..because two artists have internal beef…

  • http://dermatint.com Maria Jones

    i hate tattoos. this kind of act hurt, pain and bad looks. i don’t think so that a tattoo on skin surface make a personality cool and g00d looks. yakhhhhh

    • Joe

      Learn to spell.

  • Libturd

    I think we should ban tattooing and arrest tattoo artists. Ban soft drinks, popcorn butter,guns and table salt too. It’s for your health! Don’t you want to be more healthy and safe? Of course you do. Submit to our collective will now.