By SHELLEY HANSON
Those looking to get a tattoo should make sure they are going to a licensed tattoo artist, as the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is investigating people who have performed the work illegally.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Needles and ink are used to create Bellaire resident Brian Cooey’s tattoo at Greg’s Tattooing, Wheeling.
"We have been doing several investigations concerning illegal tattoo operations in our area," said Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator. "Recently we have had a number of complaints concerning individuals doing tattooing and piercing who are either not permitted or licensed."
Gamble said the people being investigated were not working in any permitted parlors in Ohio County.
"The ones we ... have been looking into were not working in a permitted operation. These were either individuals doing tattoos or piercings from their homes or in unapproved areas," he said. "We have issued cease orders to one person in Ohio County and have been working with another county health department to do a similar order for another person. Both were doing tattoos and piercing from their home."
Gamble said people should only use parlors that are under permit by a health department. He is discouraging people from participating in tattoo parties, as doing so in unsanitary conditions, such as a private home or apartment, increases one's risk of being exposed to diseases such as hepatitis. During such parties ink and needles are sometimes reused, which also can put people at risk for contracting skin infections such as MRSA.
Gamble said the same issues can arise when people receive piercings from unlicensed people.
"We were investigating two men and one woman," he said. "We are not going to release any names at this time. If it continues to be a problem, more information could be released as part of legal proceedings."