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Tattoo rashes linked to ink

Tainted supplies caused stubborn bacterial infections

By
5:19pm, August 22, 2012

Tattoos are getting some bad ink, literally.

An outbreak of uncommon bacterial skin infections in upstate New York in late 2011 has been traced to a tainted batch of ink used in a tattoo parlor, researchers report August 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The infections required potent antibiotics to vanquish the culprit, Mycobacterium chelonae, a bacterium in the same family as those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy.

Around the same time that the patients in New York were being identified and treated, scientists from the CDC and elsewhere began tracing the origins of similar tattoo-based infections. They found eight caused by mycobacteria in Washington, Iowa and Colorado. Ink used in these states came from three separate suppliers, all different from the source of the New York infections.

Some of the microbes varied, too. Two confirmed infections in Iowa, two in Washington, and one in Colorado were caused by M. chelonae

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