Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Bacterial Infection Outbreak Connected to Tattoo Ink

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Bacterial Infection Outbreak Connected to Tattoo Ink

Article excerpt

In upstate New York in 2011, an outbreak of Mycobacterium chelonae that occurred at a tattoo parlor was traced back to a bad batch of ink used in the tattoo process. The culprit is from the same family of bacteria that cause leprosy and tuberculosis. Around the same time that the victims in New York were being treated, several other outbreaks occurred in Washington, Iowa, and in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) tracked the ink of each of those tattoo parlors to three separate suppliers. These suppliers differed from those in New York as well as from each other.

Some of the strains of bacteria varied from one another as well. Two infections in Iowa and two in Colorado were M. chelonae strains, whereas three cases in Washington and one in Colorado were Mycobacterium abscessus strains The symptoms of individuals infected with both strains are skin rash and abscess formation, which requires surgery. It is unclear how the ink became contaminated with the Mycobacterium strains, as these strains can be present in tap water, soil, sewage, and dust. It also remained a mystery to the C.D.C. as to how four different suppliers obtained tainted batches.

The onset of M. …

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