Monday, Dec. 27


State launches education effort
to prevent infection    
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New guidelines set for nail technicians

[DEC. 27, 2004]  CHICAGO -- Pedicures, particularly spa pedicures, have rapidly become an important part of prepping for holiday parties or tropical vacations. Unfortunately, the growth in popularity of nail and spa salons has also resulted in a growing number of reports of infections caused by less-than-meticulous salons.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Department of Public Health announced on Dec. 21 an intense public and professional education program to ensure that sterilization guidelines already recommended by industry trade associations are stringently adhered to by licensed beauty and nail salons in Illinois. The careful sterilization procedures outlined by the state will dramatically reduce health risks that may arise from these relatively rare infections.

"While there was only one case in Illinois, we did not want to wait until this problem became widespread," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.

"Today's announced effort to educate Illinois' licensed professionals will ensure that improved health and safety standards are implemented by salon owners immediately," said Fernando Grillo, secretary of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. "We intend to mandate these requirements through legislative and regulatory actions in the near future."

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Department of Public Health conducted field tests on random Illinois salons after learning of an outbreak of more than 150 reported cases of skin boils caused by Mycobacterium fortuitum and other related mycobacteria in California spa-pedicure customers. When the results of the field test were received, the inspectors found that a significant percentage of the salons' spa pedicure whirlpools tested positive for the bacteria. While this bacterium is commonly found in water and soil, the warm, wet climate of a spa pedicure is the perfect breeding ground for these germs to multiply.

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The multilingual education campaign announced Dec. 21 consists of providing guidelines about new sterilization procedures to all 6,000 licensed salons and barbershops in Illinois. In addition, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is working with the 100 licensed cosmetology schools to educate their students about the new procedures. The departments are also asking salons to post these guidelines in public areas of their salons to educate their customers.

In the upcoming legislative session, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be requesting new authority to strengthen its ability to regulate nail salons and spas, including stronger sanitation requirements and more robust enforcement authority.

The new, more stringent sanitary requirements for nail salons have been developed in conjunction with the Department of Public Health. Enforcing these requirements will ensure that Illinois nail salons and spas are safe for their customers

Copies of the sterilization guidelines and customer warnings are available at

[News release from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation]

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