London, ON – People who received body art at an uninspected home-based tattoo business in Strathroy are being advised to have their blood tested. The Middlesex-London Health Unit conducted an investigation of the business after receiving a complaint from a member of the public. The business was ordered closed immediately.
Because the Health Unit cannot be sure appropriate infection control practices were in place at the business, clients who received tattoos may be at risk of getting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
The Health Unit emphasizes this advisory is being issued as a precaution and it recommends anyone who received a tattoo at this, or any other, uninspected home-based tattoo business contact their health care provider or visit a walk-in clinic to arrange for blood testing.
“Licensed tattoo and body piercing shops are inspected annually to ensure they follow proper infection control measures. But with the growing popularity of body art, there are some businesses operating without our knowledge,” says Cathie Walker, Manager of the Infectious Disease Control Team at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “When we find businesses operating without proper infection control measures, we are responsible to inform residents about infection risks, even when the risk is low, so they can make informed health decisions.”
Officials recommend anyone who receives a tattoo at any uninspected home-based tattoo business get hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV testing now, and again six months from the day of their last tattoo. It may be impossible to determine whether any positive blood tests resulted from procedures done at the business or if they are due to past exposures. So far, there have been no reports of hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV transmission from equipment used at the Strathroy-based business.
While they await the results of testing done six months after their last tattoo, clients are urged to take steps to prevent the possible spread of infectious diseases. These include using a condom during sex and avoiding sharing injection drug equipment, razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes or other personal items. Though the risk of spreading blood-borne infections from inadequate sterilization of tattooing equipment is considered low, these infections may go unrecognized because some people don’t have initial symptoms.
Residents are strongly advised to only receive tattoos and body piercings from premises inspected by the Health Unit. Clients can ask operators to see the results of these inspections.
For more information, call the Middlesex-London Health Unit at 519-663-5317 ext. 2330 or visit: www.healthunit.com.
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit, 519-663-5317 ext.2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
Cathie Walker, Manager of the Infectious Disease Control Team