Another pedicure death traced to dirty nail salon (Philippine News)

March 28, 2007

SACRAMENTO - An infection contracted from a pedicure may have caused the death of Gerry Ann Schabarum, wife of former state Assemblyman and longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum.

According to the Pasadena Weekly, Schabarum had been battling a staphylococcus infection for more than a year and because she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis it was able to take hold in her body.

"It is tragic that another life may have been lost because of an unsanitary nail salon," said Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), the author of legislation signed into law last year to help clean up dirty salons. "While progress has been made to address these outbreaks, clearly more needs to be done to protect the health of nail salon consumers."

Last September, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles) signed then Assemblyman Yee's AB 409 into law. AB 409 allows the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to immediately suspend any license without advance hearing, if the action is necessary to protect the public health and safety. A licensee found in violation could be placed on probation for one year, required to undertake remedial training in health and safety laws and regulations, subject to re-inspection at the cost of establishment owner, as well as new citation fines.

"AB 409 was a good first step, but we need more inspectors and we need to better testing," said Senator Yee. "Currently, only visual inspections are made at nail salons; I plan to pursue further legislation that will require bacterial testing at salons to make sure consumers are protected from potentially deadly infections."

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people complaining of persistent lesions and infections after visiting nail salons. California has been especially hard hit by the outbreak, with hundreds of women reporting cases of a rare bacterial infection linked to pedicures and manicures.

In 1999 and 2000, there was an outbreak of infection from a salon in Watsonville, California, that caused mycobacterial infections in over 100 women. The outbreak was due specifically to the lack of cleaning the pedicure equipment properly. In November 2004, another outbreak occurred in San Jose that had people complaining about leg lesions and infections. The assessment is that 27 salons were involved with over 120 people infected.

Complications from one such infection are suspected to have led to the death of Jessica Mears, a 43-year old woman from Mountain View. Last February, doctors also determined that another woman in Fort Worth, Texas died as a result of a staph infection caused by bacteria from a nail salon.

There are more than 290,000 manicurists and cosmetologists in California licensed through the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

When visiting a salon, customers should be aware of the following: Manicures and pedicures should not be painful or leave your cuticles bloody and swollen. Manicurists/pedicurists should wash their hands with soap and water before touching a client's hands/feet. Thorough washing and disinfecting of all tools should be performed after every use. Make sure the technician is washing the instruments in hot soapy water and that disinfectant is applied to the instruments. Soiled instruments must be stored separately from clean instruments. Emery boards that are not approved for disinfection should be discarded after use to prevent transmission of yeast or bacterial infections from one client's nails to the next. Instruments and supplies that cannot be disinfected, such as orange sticks and the sponges placed between the toes should be thrown away immediately after use. The salon should have adequate ventilation without an overwhelming smell of nail polish or polish remover that may cause an increased fire hazard. Drill bits should be cleaned after each client. Foot spas or foot bath units should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. The technician's work area should be free of debris and dirt. The salon's license should be posted in plain view in the reception area and the nail technician's license should be posted at his or her work station. Both licenses should be current.