TYLER, TX (KLTV) - State health officials say nearly a dozen East Texas counties are on alert after questions were raised about an alleged illegal Tyler tattoo shop and a potential public health threat. About 20 people, including several minors, have been found and tested for HIN and Hepatitis-C.
Meanwhile, officials are searching for many more who may have been exposed to the deadly diseases. Health officials say it may have started at the Liberty Arms Apartments. One person has tested positive for a communicable disease.
"The main thing we wanted to do was to get this place stopped and decrease the likelihood that people would be exposed to this condition," said Dr. Paul McGaha.
A cease and desist order was served to a Dre Harrison. Officials say Harrison operated out of his apartment. Now, state health officials are searching for anyone who may gotten a tattoo from Harrison's unlicensed, and therefore, illegal tattoo shop. Health officials have now spread word from Smith to 10 other East Texas counties.
Dr. McGaha says the health department has now referred the matter to Tyler Police and Smith County D.A.'s office. In the meantime, he says more concerned calls have come in, and screenings will continue.
"In public health, we err on the side of being conservative, and though, so far we haven't received any positive lab results, it's best to check...because there is a potential," said Dr. McGaha.
We stopped by Mr. Harrison's apartment Thursday. No one came to the door.
Officials say Harrison is more than likely not the only one operating without a license in East Texas. If Harrison violates the cease and desist order, he can be fined up to $5,000 a day. As far as any charges, Tyler Police say they don't have much of a case without a victim. Someone has to first file a complaint and that will determine where they go, and what evidence is available.