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Published On: Sat, Mar 31st, 2018

Maine: Health alert issued over unlicensed tattoo artist in East Machias

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has become aware of an unlicensed tattoo artist working out of their home in East Machias. The individual has allegedly been doing so under unsanitary conditions. Receiving a tattoo from an unlicensed tattoo artist increases the risk of passing hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infections from one client to another. At least one client is known to be infected with hepatitis C. The number of individuals exposed, and number of clients seen by the tattoo artist are unknown.

Public domain photo/Arpingstone at the English Wikipedia project

The Maine CDC does not license tattoo artists to work out of their home. This unlicensed tattoo artist has been operating without Maine CDC approval for at least the past six months. Clients who have received tattoos from an unlicensed tattoo artist in the East Machias area should contact a medical care provider for testing, vaccination and treatment information.

Most people infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C have no symptoms. However, possible hepatitis symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice (yellow skin). Many individuals infected with HIV have no immediate symptoms but experience flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks following infection. The only way to know if you have hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV is to be tested.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that unlicensed tattooing is a high-risk activity for the transmission of hepatitis C because it can be transmitted through needle sticks, such as those used in tattooing. This risk of infection is the same whether a single-hand needle or a motorized tattoo “gun” is used. If a tattoo artist uses the same needle on more than one person, there is a high risk of transmitting hepatitis B and C and HIV from one client to the next. More than 6 percent of people in Maine with hepatitis B and C reported receiving an unlicensed tattoo prior to becoming infected.

If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, consider the following:

  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you have not already been vaccinated.
  • Use only licensed tattoo artists who work in Maine CDC-approved commercial studios or at an approved body-art show (Maine CDC never licenses artists to work out of the living areas of a residence and does not license “apprentice” tattoo artists).
  • The body artist must post their license at their place of business.
  • “Tattoo Parties” at home residences are illegal.
  • Maine law states that minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to get a tattoo even with parental permission.

All suspected and confirmed hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV cases should be reported immediately to the Maine Center for Disease Control at 1-800-821-5821.

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