News Flash

Health News

Posted on: March 2, 2020

Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure

Tattoo Web

Please call the Berrien County Health Department with questions or concerns at 1-800-815-5485. 

What happened?

The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) has identified unsafe and unsanitary piercing practices at a local body art and piercing facility, Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing located in Niles, Michigan that may have exposed former customers to the blood of other customers. As a precaution, customers who have ever received body piercings of their navel (belly button), tongue, nipples, genitals, and/or other surface or dermal piercings at Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing through February 2020 are recommended to receive blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There are no concerns with ear or nose piercings or tattoos that were performed at this facility.

WHY DOES THIS CAUSE CONCERN?

If one person’s blood comes in contact with another person’s body, especially during a procedure like body piercing, they can become exposed to bloodborne pathogens, or microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These viruses can be dangerous. They can make you sick and they can possibly make your family sick, if they are exposed. Some of these diseases are permanent and can be fatal. People infected with viruses such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV may not have symptoms for many years. Even though there may not be symptoms, blood testing is still recommended as there are treatment options available if test results are positive for infection. Testing cannot determine where the infection occurred (at a body art facility or another location), but knowing about the infection is important so it can be evaluated by a health care professional.

What should I do?

Individuals who received these types of piercings are strongly encouraged to get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV through their primary healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you  can get tested through the Berrien County Health Department clinics in Niles and Benton Harbor. 

For the shortest wait times, please visit our Niles office (1205 Front Street) on Tuesdays or Thursdays and/or our Benton Harbor office (2149 E. Napier Ave.) on Mondays or Thursdays.  However, we will accommodate your testing any day if you are unable to visit us on one of the preferred days. If you are positive for any one of these viruses, you will receive information about what to do next and how to receive further evaluation from a health care provider. 

Cass or VanBuren residents are able to visit the VanBuren-Cass District Health Department offices in Dowagiac on Thursdays or Hartford on Wednesdays. Individuals should call ahead to schedule an appointment at (269) 621-3143. 

What is the Berrien County health department doing?

The Berrien County Health Department has currently suspended the operating license for Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing. We are working to notify individuals with records of having received the piercings in question to provide bloodborne pathogen testing recommendations and guidance. While investigations are ongoing, to date, the Berrien County Health Department has not identified any cases of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV that are associated with practices or procedures at Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing. We continue to work in collaboration with state and regional public health partners as this investigation is ongoing. Read the news release issued to media regarding this situation. 

WHEN DID THIS OCCUR?

BCHD recommends that anyone who has ever received a piercing in question (see above) from Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Our records indicate that Paparazzi Tattoo & Body Piercing has been in operation since at least 2010.

Is there anything else I should do?

To further prevent any potential illness, it is recommended that you receive a vaccination for hepatitis B and hepatitis A (if you haven’t received those before). We are happy to connect you with one of our nurses who can help evaluate your immunization history and let you know what other vaccines would be beneficial to you. Also, getting tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV on a regular basis is recommended. You can get those tests done quickly and easily through our Sexual Health Clinic. We accept appointments or walk-ins anytime on Wednesdays in Benton Harbor and Niles.

Where can I go to learn more about bloodborne pathogens?

Visit the CDC’s website for more information about bloodborne pathogens, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. 

I’m thinking about getting a piercing...what should I know ahead of time?

There are several things to consider before getting a piercing, including safety, piercer qualifications, sterylization techniques, and other hygiene concerns. The Association of Professional Piercers has more information on things you should think through when you are picking your piercer. 

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