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December 9, 2005

Public Health Advisory re: Body Piercing and Tattooing

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Medical Officer of Health Dr. Margaret Fast today issued a reminder that anyone considering tattooing or body-piercing procedures should have them done only at facilities that are licensed and approved for that purpose.

The warning came after the WRHA recently learned of several young individuals who either developed infections at their piercing sites or required infection prevention treatment after having the procedure performed by an unlicensed operator.

"In this case the procedure was performed by an unlicensed operator whose standard of practice was not sanitary," Dr. Fast said, noting that the cases in question involved an operator working out of a residence. She added that in addition to the risk of obvious bacterial infections, un-sterile tattooing or body piercing also carries the risk of blood-borne infections such as hepatitis C and B and HIV.

This incident serves as a reminder to all persons that there are risks associated with these types of practices. Receiving a tattoo or body piercing at a reputable establishment significantly reduces these risks. The new City of Winnipeg Body Modification Bylaw, that comes into effect on January 1st, 2006, was developed in response to changing body modification practices within the industry and replaces the previous Tattoo Studio Bylaw. The new bylaw will regulate a broad range of body modification practices, including body piercing.

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