Body Art Dangers: A WTOL11 investigation

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – According to the Ohio Department of Health, there were 8 outbreaks of infectious disease in the state as a result of tattoos or piercings in 2011.

One of those infections was in Janeen Rybak's eye.  Rybak says she got her eye and nose pierced at a Toledo business, and later became sick because of the piercing.

"He had went too deep and he had pierced through the sinus cavity," said Ryback, who had to be hospitalized with the infection.  "It got to the point where I stopped breathing.  I stopped having a heartbeat and they had to come in and resuscitate me."

"When I was fully coherent, he told me he was glad to see me alive. They did not think I was going to make it through," Ryback said.

Following the incident, the Lucas County Health Department inspected the business in question, but found nothing amiss.  The health department follows up on all complaints of an infection, but Lucas County Health Department Director of Community and Environmental Services Eric Zgodzinski says it's difficult to prove a business was responsible for an inspection.

"It's very hard to track down when somebody has an infection," said Zgodzinski.

Contact with bacteria any time after the piercing can cause an infection, so it's impossible to say the business in question caused Rybak's infection.

But, Ryback says she took every precaution to avoid infection, wearing gloves and cleaning the piercing with the material the piercing shop gave her.

"They can always say you didn't take care of it properly. And that's where the circle begins," Ryback said.

The health department takes a proactive approach to preventing infection, regularly inspecting businesses which perform tattoos and piercings.  If a business fails to correct a problem after inspection, the department can even shut the place down.

"It all comes back to prevention," said Zgodzinski.

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