NYC health officials are warning New Yorkers not to touch live or raw seafood from Asian fish markets in the city with their bare hands. The Health Department announced yesterday that it has pinpointed fish and other seafood purchased at markets in Flushing, Queens, Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Chinatown in Lower Manhattan as the source of a rare skin infection caused by Mycobacterium marinum bacteria. At least 30 people have reported red, tender bumps on their skin after handling the contaminated seafood.

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When M. marinum gets into the body through cuts in the skin, it leads to rare disease known as aquarium granuloma, which causes red, tender boils or swelling lumps under the skin. The infection is treatable with specific antibiotic injections but treatment needs to be completed quickly, or it could worsen. Sometimes the condition will also cause swelling or pain in the hands and arms, and can even result in difficulty moving the fingers. The infection can also go deeper and damage muscles, at which point, surgery may be required.

So far, the NY Health Department has identified 30 cases of the infection. The people affected all had existing cuts on their hands or cut themselves on sharp shells or fish bones while preparing the contaminated seafood. According to the health department, however, there is no risk associated with consuming the seafood.

To avoid contracting the M. marinum bacteria, handle live or raw fish and seafood with waterproof gloves, or at a minimum, wash your hands with soap and water immediately afterward. Anyone who believes they are infected should contact their doctor or call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at (347)-396-2600 and ask to speak with a physician.

+ NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

via Fox News

Images © NYC Health and Justin De La Ornellas