Contaminated Tattoo Ink Causes Skin Rash Outbreak In Four U.S. States

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Tattoo ink contaminated with the bacteria Mycobacterium chelonae has caused 22 confirmed cases and 27 possible cases of red rashes in tattoo recipients in New York, Washington, Iowa and Colorado, the CDC and FDA reported.

The unusual rash looks similar to allergic-contact dermatitis but does not respond to the normal treatments, including topical steroids.

The infection first appeared in a patient from Rochester, New York. After some research, area doctors determined it was linked to tuberculosis. In a Wednesday article posted to the New England Journal, the FDA's Pamela LeBlanc said there is inherent danger of infection in the tattooing process.

"Even if a person receives a tattoo at a tattoo parlor that maintains the highest standards of hygienic practice, there remains a risk of infection from the use of contaminated ink," LeBlanc said.

The infections have been likely caused by contaminated distilled water the pigments used to create color in the ink. In their weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, the CDC said the contamination never should have occurred.

"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report said.

The CDC confirmed our companies' products are being investigated due to the contamination. The companies names and locations were not disclosed.

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