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New York City warns of new dangerous skin disease from fish

By Mason White 3:00 PM March 6, 2014
Hand infected with Mycobacterium marinum 

By: Hydar Tomar
(Scroll down for video) The New York City Department of health has warned the public about a new dangerous skin disease from handling fish, the department said in a statement.

The health department announced today that it has identified an outbreak of a rare skin infection in people who handled live or raw fish or seafood that was purchased in markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

The bacteria which causes the infection, Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum), enters the skin through a cut or other injury while handling live or raw fish or seafood.

Symptoms of M. marinum include red, tender swelling under the skin of the hands and arms, hand or arm pain, and difficulty moving fingers. People are encouraged to wear waterproof gloves in their home when preparing live or raw fish or seafood, especially if they have cuts or abrasions.

Employees of specific seafood markets and restaurants that purchase food from these affected markets also are urged to wear waterproof gloves when handling live or raw fish or seafood. There is no risk associated with consuming the food from these markets.

If you show any symptoms or believe you are at risk, please see a dermatologist or infectious disease physician and explain that you think you may have a skin infection (M. marinum) that occurs after contact with live or raw fish or seafood.

It is important to begin antibiotic treatment early. If left untreated, M. marinum can evolve over weeks and months into more serious infections that require surgical treatment.