Several San Jose, Calif.-area nail salons are currently under investigation after more than 50 people were affected by a bacterial infection after receiving pedicures.

The incidents have prompted the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to issue one safety alert for consumers receiving pedicures and one for nail technicians concerning whirlpool footbath cleaning and disinfection guidelines.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department named three salons of the 13 under investigation: Kathy Nails, Nails National, and Silver Nails II. The names of the 10 other salons were not released because the department hasn’t officially linked these salons to the bacterial infection. All three salons named are located within a five-mile radius of one another.

According to Teresa Chagoya, a spokesperson for the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, the department received a call from a physician a few months back who had seen a woman with lesions on her legs. Soon after other physicians began reporting similar cases.

Just like a similar incident that occurred in Watsonville, Calif., a few years ago, the lesions are linked to contaminated whirlpool footbaths. If footbaths are not properly cleaned and disinfected, hair and skin debris can build up in the tub basin, allowing bacteria to grow to unusually high levels.  

That incident, in which hundreds of pedicure clients were infected with the bacteria, prompted the state board to issue guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting pedicure footbaths. 

The board mailed out 37,000 letters to salon licensees throughout the state outlining the proper cleaning procedure for whirlpool footbaths. The letters were printed in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. “With helpful guidelines, we want to educate the consumers of California on how they can help protect themselves from whirlpool bath infections,” says Terri Ciau, the board’s executive officer. “In addition, we are reaching out to our salon licensees to emphasize the importance of cleaning and disinfecting that follow state health and safety regulations.”

You can find the guidelines in four languages on our website here for English, Korean, Spanish, Polish, and Vietnamese

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.