Tattoo ink linked to skin infections; how you can stay safe

- SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – New research found tattoo ink has led to an outbreak on infected tattoos.

Health officials said they are seeing more cases of a nasty skin infection caused by a common bacteria traced to the ink.

The largest outbreak included 19 people in New York. Their tattoos ended up with bubbly rashes.

The infections were tied to ink or water used to dilute the ink. Health officials said tattoo artists and ink makers should use only sterile water or solution to dilute ink.

The illnesses were caused by a bacterial cousin of tuberculosis named Mycobacterium chelonae, common in tap water.

Tattoo artist Shae McAfee with Ironclad Electronic Tattooing in Salt Lake City said choosing a safe artist who uses clean methods can greatly reduce your chances of getting an infection.

“The possibility of getting sick from a tattoo is very rare,” McAfee said.

The artists said their clients are not in danger of getting infected because they do not use water to dilute their ink, rather a pre-sterilized solution.

They only time they used is when they set up a station and use a water cup.

McAfee said reports of infectious tattoos only hinder the stereotypes about people with tattoos. He said if a client does their research, they should have no problems when getting inked.

“We want to further the tattoo community and take it from a negative into a positive light,” he added.

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