Tattooing a Major Source for Infection

USA TODAY, October 2001 | Go to article overview

Tattooing a Major Source for Infection


Getting a tattoo could be a key infection route for hepatitis C, the chronic viral infection that affects almost two percent of the U.S. population, according to Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. A study found that people who had received a tattoo in a commercial tattoo parlor were nine times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those who did not have one.

Participants in the study were patients of an orthopedic spinal clinic, a setting that provided a large volume of individuals who were seeing a physician for reasons unrelated to blood-borne infection. Patients unaware of their hepatitis status were examined, interviewed for risk factors, and tested for hepatitis C by the study's co-author, Paul Fischer, an internal medicine specialist with the Dallas Spine Group. Of 626 patients studied, 113 had a tattoo. Of those with one, 22% were infected with hepatitis C. Of the 52 who had acquired their tattoos in commercial tattoo parlors, 33% had the disease. In contrast, just 3.5% with no tattoos had it. Few of the tattoo-associated infections could be traced to injection-drug use, transfusions, or other known routes of exposure. …

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Tattooing a Major Source for Infection
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