INk the News: $5,000 fine for home “Tattoo Party”

A flier advertising a home ‘tattoo party’ in Kiowa ended in a $5,000 citation for the tattoo artist, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department.

On Saturday Sept. 15, Kiowa Police Chief Tony Runyon that he was informed by a citizen that about a flyer posted at the local store advertising a ‘Tattoo Party’ at a house in Kiowa.
He said he obtained a search warrant that day. “We made entry and the artist was doing a tattoo as we walked in,” Runyon said. “We seized a large amount of tattoo equipment.”

Travis Brown Public Health Supervisor with the Oklahoma State Health Department said illegal tattoo parlors are dangerous for several reasons. “The parlors are not inspected which means customers may suffer from a variety of serious consequences, such as infections, HIV and bloodborne illnesses,” Brown said.

A warning in an August 30, press release by the Federal Food and Drug Administration said the FDA is particularly concerned about a family of bacteria called nontuberculous Mycobacteria that has been found in a recent outbreak of illnesses linked to contaminated tattoo inks. “If a tattoo parlor is unlicensed Brown said, the artists will most like not be notified of warnings such as with the latest on the contaminated tattoo ink. The results could be life threatening.” He said M. chelonae, one of several disease-causing NTM species, can cause lung disease, joint infection, eye problems and other organ infections.

According to the FDA, these infections can be difficult to diagnose and can require treatment lasting six months or more. Some of the contaminated inks have caused serious infections in at least four states in late 2011 and early 2012. FDA also warns that tattoo inks, and the pigments used to color them, can become contaminated by other bacteria, mold and fungi. According to the FDA even tattoo artists who diligently follow hygienic practices, may not know that an ink itself may be contaminated. “Contamination is not always visible in the inks,” said Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.

Meanwhile, Mike Echelly of the Pittsburg County Department of Health said the Kiowa Police Departments issuance of the warrant was a successful collaboration of the Kiowa Police Department, District 18 District Attorney’s office and the Oklahoma Department of Health.“All three worked together to stop this illegal activity.” Meanwhile Chief Runyon said “Although the investigation is not yet complete, charges are pending.”



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