Something fishy is going on in New York, and it's leaving people with nasty red bumps and lesions sprouting under their skin.
The infection, known as aquarium granuloma and derived from the bacteria Mycobacterium marinum, is a rare one, and New York City hasn't fallen victim to an outbreak in around twenty years. As the name would suggested, the infection is spread via contact with raw fish, the bacteria making its way into open wounds such as small cuts. The infection has been reported by thirty afflicted people, all of whom touched or purchased fish in New York's three Chinatowns - located in the Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn boroughs.
For any curious (and still hungry) New York pescetarians, the fish that carries the lump- causing bacteria is still safe to eat - provided you don't touch it. People who handle fish regularly, such as cooks and those who work in the fish markets, have been advised to wear gloves to ward off the possibility of infection. Additionally, the infection can't be passed on via person-to-person contact. However, the health department urges prompt treatment. "Infected people need to take one or more antibiotics to treat the infection," the agency said.
"Some people who were infected have been treated with traditional Chinese medicine or types of antibiotics that cannot cure the infection. If the infection isn't treated correctly, it can worsen over weeks or months and may require surgery."
Telltale signs of infection include red bumps on hands and arms, hand or arm pain, swelling beneath the skin, and difficulty moving your fingers. If the condition remains untreated and worsens, surgery may be required. A press release from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advised the following:
People are encouraged to wear waterproof gloves in their home when preparing live or raw fish or seafood that came from a market in Chinatown, especially if they have cuts or abrasions. Employees of both these seafood markets and restaurants that purchase food from these 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.