Pedicure Photo In response to over 125 complaints of pedicure-linked infections involving 27 salons in Santa Clara County, health officials conducted surprise visits of 112 nail salons. More than half of the 112 Santa Clara County nail salons inspected last December by the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology were cited for improper disinfection of whirlpool footbaths used for pedicures, according to reports reviewed by the San Jose Mercury News.

Other violations included: failure to dispose of instruments that can't be disinfected (83 violations) and improper storage of disinfected instruments (81 violations). The Mercury News reports that state inspectors issued 709 violations totaling $70,775 in fines, $46,900 of which were for repeat violations.

The wave of complaints came from pedicure clients who say they contracted skin infections after receiving services at salons in the county. The rare infection is caused by a strain of non-tubercular mycobacteria that can accumulate in improperly cleaned whirlpool filters, and is characterized by persistent leg lesions and boils. Two sisters from San Jose, ages 11 and 15, have hired a personal injury attorney, and are suing the salon where they received services to recoup their medical costs.

Kymberli W. Brady, a Staff Writer for Times Media, has been extensively covering the outbreaks and even providing support for the victims. Brady reported yesterday that, after four years in the courts, 73 former clients of Fancy Nails in Gilroy will split a $3 million settlement. The plaintiffs reported painful boils and permanent scaring on their legs as a result of pedicures.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the type of bacteria is common, the outbreak in Watsonville was the first documented case at a nail salon in the United States. A similar outbreak was reported in Texas earlier this year, and now dozens of San Jose women are facing a similar outbreak.

Despite sanitation regulations put into effect after the Watsonville outbreak, officials believe there is no way to properly enforce the standards. In California, 17 field inspectors oversee 37,000 licensed nail care establishments.

For more information on the Northern Californai salon outbreaks, visit the following links:

1. Initial breaking story:
Problematic Pedicures, Painful mycobacterial outbreak linked to three
south San Jose salons (Nov. 25)

Pedicure salon investigation yields more infection outbreaks

Swirling emotions; Pedicure infection will leave lifetime scars

Surprise inspections yield hefty fines for nail salons
(also included here is a 'partial' listing of salons the the violations
they were served with.)