Customers happy with fish pedicure treatment

People using a fish pedicure centre in Norwich said yesterday they weren't worried about picking up infections and diseases- despite scientists from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) beginning an investigation into potential risks.

Dr Spafish walk-in pedicure therapy in the Mall Norwich offers people the chance to put their feet or hands in tanks with up to 50 toothless garra rufa fish that lift off hard skin and are thought to heal conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Fish pedicures are one of the fastest-growing beauty treatments in Britain, but more than a dozen US states have banned them over fears they could spread infections and disease.

And a spokesman for the HPA said that, while it did not expect to be enforcing a ban in the UK and believed the risk of catching an infection from a fish foot spa to be 'very small', it was looking at publishing guidelines for the public.

However, Paul Waite, one of the owners of the nationwide Dr Spafish chain, said it was untrue that people could pick up infections or diseases at the spas.

He said: 'You cannot transmit a disease from fish to human, unless it's through an open wound. The girls in our shops always ask customers before treatment whether they have cuts or open wounds, and if they do, we don't offer them treatment. 'I'm aware that fish pedicures were banned in a few US states, but if you check, the bans were overturned and those centres are now trading.

'It's not true that you can pick up any diseases or infection in our centres. Our system is government approved.'

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Customers at the Dr Spafish yesterday were confident they did not have anything to worry about.

Irina Goodwin, from the city centre, said: 'Health and safety in this country is quite thorough, and everything here looks clean, so I'm not worried.'

Her friend Fay, also from the city centre, who did not want to give her surname, was also unconcerned. She said: 'Considering how careful these girls at the spa seem to be with hygiene, by checking whether you have wounds, I'm not concerned at all.'

A spokesman for the HPA said that, while it was unaware of any cases of infection associated with the use of fish spa pedicures in the UK, following a number if inquiries it was examining the most up-to-date evidence and will publish advice to help both salons and the public to minimise any possible risk in due course.

Do you have a story about a Norwich business? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email,