Blood tests on clients of tattoo shop closed over health fears

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Sixty-three clients of a tattoo and body piercing parlour that allegedly flouted hygiene controls are to be tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Sixty-three clients of a tattoo and body piercing parlour that allegedly flouted hygiene controls are to be tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Health officials believe poor infection controls and cleaning procedures at the Piercing Point in Dundee exposed people to the risk of blood-borne infections.

A teenage girl complained to Tayside trading standards officers after she had a tattoo at the parlour. An investigation was opened by the officers. They were shocked at the hygiene levels and called in environmental health officers, who closed the parlour on 19 June.

The parlour, which opened last September, was shut under health and safety regulations by Dundee City Council. The council then began an emergency operation to track down former customers. Records from the company suggest that eight people from Tayside and Fife have had tattoos at the parlour, and 55 others are believed to have had body piercings.

"It is very important to stress there is no evidence that anyone has become infected and our actions at this stage are purely precautionary," Dr Mike Roworth, a consultant in public health medicine with NHS Tayside, said.

"I would like to be able to reassure customers who had procedures at this parlour that the risks of infection are low. I believe it is appropriate to contact these people directly to offer reassurance, advice and testing and to give other customers the opportunity to come forward. We have already written to customers who we know from records had tattoos or piercings at the parlour."

Health and safety at work legislation imposes strict guidelines on all operators of skin and body piercing businesses. It is also illegal to have a tattoo under the age of 18. Council officers can issue improvement and prohibition notices and an inspector may ask the Procurator Fiscal to prosecute.

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