Rare skin infection breaks out in Chinatown fish markets

skin infection chinatown
An outbreak of a rare skin infection has the New York City Health Department concerned about New Yorkers handling live and raw fish in the city’s Chinatowns.
Credit: NYC Health Departemntn

An outbreak of a rare skin infection has the New York City Health Department concerned about New Yorkers handling live and raw fish in the city’s Chinatowns.

The Health Department said it tracked the cases through reports from doctors serving Chinese communities around the city. Every victim confirmed they handled live or raw seafood in the Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens Chinatowns.

The infection cannot be transferred between people, nor can it be caught by eating seafood with the bacteria, but the agency recommends using waterproof gloves if handling either live or raw seafood.

The city so far identified 30 cases of the infection, caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium marinum and is transferred through breaks in the skin. Symptoms include red, tender lumps or swelling under the skin of their hands or arms and occasional swelling or pain in the hands or arms.

The infection can be treated with only a few specific antibiotics soon after infection, the city warned, and requires professional medical attention.

“Some people who were infected have been treated with traditional Chinese medicine or types of antibiotics that cannot cure the infection,” the Health Department wrote in its alert. “If the infection isn’t treated correctly, it can worsen over weeks or months and may require surgery.”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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