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Pulaski crackdown on unlicensed tattoo artists follows Hepatitis … – Roanoke Times

Posted in Tattooing on Jul 08, 2017

PULASKI Town police have arrested four men for unlicensed tattooing, spurred by concerns that unsanitary conditions at their operations could cause hepatitis.

Bradley Allen Cook, Christopher Steven Alley, Timothy Andrew Hagee and Keith Alan Brogan all were charged in June with tattooing without a license, a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. The four men had Pulaski addresses; their ages were not available last week.

All were released on their own recognizance pending Aug. 1 hearings in Pulaski County General District Court.

Town police Chief Gary Roche and attorneys working on the cases said Thursday they could not recall similar charges in the regions courts. In an email, Roche wrote that the roundup of unlicensed tattoo-ers was driven by a rise in hepatitis C cases, and that there may be more arrests.

We are evaluating additional information that we received during the initial phases of these cases to determine if there are additional suspects, Roche wrote.

In May, Pulaski police issued a warning that hepatitis C had been spread by unclean and unlicensed tattooing.

If you have received a tattoo from an unlicensed tattoo artist, especially from someone in the Meadowview apartments area, you should contact the Virginia Department of Health or other medical facility and be tested for this disease, a police statement said in May.

According to search warrants filed in the cases, police tracked down the four suspects through their own advertising, with officers scanning Facebook for pictures of local tattoo artists at work. Cook had posted on Facebook the prices that he charged for various size tattoos, according to a search warrant.

On another Facebook page, a post indicated Brogan was inking people at his residence, a claim backed up by witnesses, an investigator wrote in a search warrant.

Virginia law makes it illegal to charge money for tattoos without a license. The health department is to inspect tattoo businesses to see that they follow regulations regarding cleanliness and safety.

Hepatitis is a viral infection that can damage peoples livers, sometimes fatally. There are three common strains of the virus, designated as hepatitis A, B and C, with different characteristics. People who clear a hepatitis infection within six months are said to have had an acute case, while those who the virus continues to infect have chronic conditions. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B, but not C.

The health department in May declined to say how many people were thought to have contracted hepatitis from unlicensed tattooing in Pulaski.

On Thursday, health department spokesman Robert Parker pointed to preliminary figures that indicated that the New River Health District, which includes Pulaski, Montgomery, Floyd and Giles counties and Radford, had zero acute cases of hepatitis C this year from January through May. The New River Health District reported 69 cases of chronic hepatitis C during this time period.

Health department figures for all of Virginia showed 26 acute cases of hepatitis C and 3,392 cases of chronic hepatitis C from January through May, compared to 24 acute cases and 3,695 chronic cases during the same time period in 2016.

January to May totals from 2012 to 2015 varied from 12 to 24 acute hepatitis C cases across Virginia, while chronic cases for the five-month period increased each year from 1,175 in 2012 to 1,861 in 2015.

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Pulaski crackdown on unlicensed tattoo artists follows Hepatitis … – Roanoke Times

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