Fish pedicure safety in question

A salon in Washington DC was an early pioneer of the 'fish pedicure'. First broadcast July 2008

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Health experts are investigating the safety of fish pedicures after concerns that this latest pampering craze could spread infections.

The treatment involves dunking the feet in tanks filled with Garra rufa fish that can nibble away dead skin.

The Health Protection Agency is concerned this could spread diseases from person to person through open wounds.

It was first contacted by worried environmental health officers.

Feet feeders

A Health Protection Agency spokesperson 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."

Tiny Garra Rufa fish, or "doctor fish" as they are affectionately called, are a type of toothless carp that nibble on the dead skin.

Their use in spas across the UK has been gaining in popularity.

In the US, however, some states have banned their use over health and safety concerns of having the same fish clean the skin of multiple customers.

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