Walker County Health Department investigating tattoo artist - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Walker County Health Department investigating tattoo artist

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FORT OGLETHORPE, GA. (WRCB) -- A Fort Oglethorpe man thought he was getting a deal, but ended up in the hospital.

A tattoo artist left him with a severe skin infection, and Channel 3 has learned he's not alone.

Health officials say the woman was operating illegally.

"It just seemed so good, so I went for it and wound up with this," says Michael Harris.

For Michael Harris, $20 for a tattoo seemed like a steal. Harris says the artist even came to his home.

"She done some pictures at our wedding, and then she started doing tattoos," he says. "So, I figured I'd get one by her."

"It hurt a lot more than usual," says Harris.

Doctors say the needle hit Michael's muscle, and caused a severe bacterial infection that left his leg swollen and red.

"It hurts all the way up into my groin," Harris says.

Michael's wife posted a picture on Facebook and quickly learned he wasn't alone.

"We've had people walking in and showing us infected tattoos," says Raven Smith.

Dead Girlz Tattooing and Piercing is one of the only licensed parlors in the area.

Raven Smith says at least a dozen people have showed up with infections and stories about the same woman, who can be seen here working on a client in her kitchen.

"Different people, all sorts of people popped up, saying, ‘I got one from her and this happened, I got one from her and this happened'," Smith says. "So, we just started collecting all the information and putting it in a file."

Smith passed that file along to health inspectors, who confirm the woman does not have a tattooing license.

Clay Tracey can't comment on the on-going investigation against her, but says legal action could be taken to protect the public.

"Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, certainly staph infection would be an issue," Tracey says.

As for Michael Harris, he'll be using the money saved on ink, to pay for medical bills.

"Go to a shop and have it professionally done," Harris says. "It may cost a little bit more, but it's worth it."

Channel 3 is not using the woman's name because she has not been charged with a crime.

We reached her by phone, but she did not want to comment on our story.

If the health department feels it has a strong enough case, it will hand the investigation over to the police.

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