Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fish Pedicures - Are they safe?

We realize we sometimes stray from our focus on food, and this is one of those times.

This is all about fish pedicures and how they possibly could spread HIV and hepatitis C.

People with diabetes, psoriasis or weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable, and should never undergo fish pedicures, at least that's what officials are saying.

Fish tank water contains micro-organisms and conditions could arise from bacteria being transmitted by the pedicure’s garra rufa fish, from the spa water or from one customer to another if the water is not changed.

Now, if a user is infected with a blood-borne virus like HIV or hepatitis and bleeds in the water, there is a risk the diseases could be passed on.

But in all fairness, officials are saying, "When the correct hygiene procedures are followed, the risk of infection is very low."
"However, there is still a risk of transmission of a number of infections, and this does include viruses like HIV and hepatitis."

Some locations in the US and Canada already banned fish pedicures. Sterilization of the equipment doesn't happen because it would harm the fish.

In their report, officials say these businesses must follow "strict standards of cleanliness" and ensure that water is changed after each client.

They should also check to see if customers have health conditions making them vulnerable to infection and for cuts and grazes.

Blood-borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis could be transmitted if infected clients bleed in spa water that is used again.

Christina Wright, boss of fish spa chain Appyfeet, accused officials of "scare-mongering". She said, "We worked for 18 months with the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities making sure our spas were of the highest standard."

A spokeswoman for HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "The risk of picking up infections is minimal but people must be careful where they choose to go."