2nd Cape Breton tattoo artist used improper sterilization

A second tattoo artist in Cape Breton has been found to be improperly sterilizing tools, leaving open the possibility of transferring blood-borne illnesses from one client to another.

Clients advised to get tested for blood-borne illnesses

Clients of a second Cape Breton tattoo artist could be at risk because of improper sterilization practices. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A second tattoo artist in Cape Breton has been found to be sterilizing his tools improperly, leaving open the possibility of blood-borne illnesses transferring from one client to another, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

The authority said in a statement Friday that Jerry Billard of Wizzards Tattoo and Body Piercing in Bras d'Or was "unable to prove his practices, especially the sterilization process and equipment, ensured the health and safety of customers."

This comes one day after the health authority issued a similar alert for Jeff Day of Bar Town Tattoos and Piercing.

The health authority said both artists are still working, using pre-sterilized, single-use disposable tools. They will both be subject to follow-up inspections.

Dr. Frank Atherton, the local acting medical officer of health, has said officials would inspect other tattoo operations around the province following the findings at Day's operation.

The health authority said there is no evidence that anyone has become ill after receiving a tattoo from either man, but their clients are being asked to see their doctors and get tested as a precaution.

Unclean tattoo instruments can transmit such illnesses as hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

Wizzards Tattoo and Piercings responded to the notification in a Facebook post saying "one thing has always remained, our utmost attention to the safety and health of our clients."

It says it has sought legal advice because it claims the health authority has not done any testing to prove Wizzards' sterilization equipment is not working properly.

Tattoo regulation legislation

The Nova Scotia government passed legislation in 2011 that would regulate the body art industry in Nova Scotia. 

The legislation required studios to have a permit and meet standards for cleanliness and infection control.

Then health minister Maureen MacDonald said the new regulations would be phased in slowly to allow tattoo operators time to make the necessary changes.

Amber Thorpe, a Bedford tattoo artist who pushed for the guidelines says the Cape Breton incidents are the first she`s heard of an inspector going into a Nova Scotia studio in the 11 years she`s lived here.

"With the regulations in place the inspectors are now trained, I`m assuming they are going to start cracking down, which is what we`ve been looking forward to for the past 10 years," she said.

Thorpe says as far as she knows, every other province across Canada has some sort of regulation in place. 

To protect themselves, Thorpe said tattoo clients should make sure their artist is meeting safety standards. She said an important question to ask is if the artist has taken the voluntary, bloodborne pathogens safety course.

"Anyone who has taken the bloodborne pathogen course, they're going to take all the precautions they possibly can because they want their artwork to turn out good, they don't want their artwork to get infected," she said.

"So as long as they are professional and feel responsibility towards their clients, they're definitely keeping up with the standards."

With files from Carly Stagg


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.