Sunday 4 December 2016

Safety of fish pedicures questioned

Published 28/02/2011 | 16:16

Garra Rufa fish naturally flock to human flesh in their original habitat in Turkey
Garra Rufa fish naturally flock to human flesh in their original habitat in Turkey

Health experts are investigating the potential risks of people catching infections from fish pedicures.

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The popular high street treatment involves customers putting their feet in tanks of water containing dozens of tiny Garra Rufa fish, which nibble on dead skin.

The pedicures are popular in Asia but have been banned in some US states, including Florida, Texas, New Hampshire and Washington.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is looking at whether the pedicures could spread infections between people through open wounds.

It has not received any reports of infections but has been contacted by worried health officers.

An HPA spokewoman said: "Following a number of enquiries to the HPA from local environmental health officers over the past six months, the agency is currently investigating if there are any potential risks of infection associated with the commercial use of fish spa pedicures in the UK.

"Alongside colleagues in environmental health, Health Protection Scotland and the Health and Safety Laboratory, the HPA will examine the most up to date evidence of any possible risks associated with Garra Rufa fish pedicures and will publish guidelines that will be available UK-wide.

"The HPA and Health Protection Scotland is currently unaware of any cases of infection associated with the use of the fish spas pedicures in the UK."

Garra Rufa are a type of toothless carp.

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