Skin Infections at Tattoo Sites
If you're looking for another reason to be particular about where you get a tattoo, you should read the August 24 issue of the MMWR
The report describes 12 people in New York State with skin infections at their tattoo sites because of mycobacterium (not the airborne contagious type). The Department of Health investigation implicated a certain ink used in the process. Because this ink was possibly used throughout the country, the investigation was expanded. A total of 50 probable cases were identified in Iowa, Washington and Colorado.
Interestingly, tattoo ink is considered a cosmetic so there is no specific FDA requirement that states that the ink must be sterile although the CDC does recommend this.
It's also possible to get infections if the tattoo artist has poor aseptic technique or if the artist dilutes the ink with non-sterile water - because these organisms are found in tap water.
So check that the tattoo artist is registered with your local jurisdiction. Notify the artist and the FDA MED watch if you develop any symptoms after getting a tattoo.
Ironically, the CDC recently recommended that baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C. Most of the 3 million Americans with Hep C are in this age group but may not know they are infected. They were likely infected as young adults because of contact with blood whether through healthcare procedures or drug use. Perhaps some were infected at tattoo parlors before standard precautions were routine. The goal of the increase in testing is to identify people who would benefit from treatment because new therapies can cure up to 75 percent of people with Hep C.