HEALTHY LIVING
03/05/2014 01:12 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2014

New Yorkers Warned Of Rare Skin Infection Outbreak Caused By Raw Fish In Chinatown (PHOTOS)

The handling of raw fish at three New York City Chinatown markets has led to an outbreak of a rare skin infection.

The city's health department has identified 30 people with the infection-- caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium marinum-- all of whom handled live or raw seafood at the Chinatown markets in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

M. marinum, as it's called, can travel from contaminated fish into a human body through a break in the skin, such as a cut. According to the health department, symptoms include "skin lesions, pain and swelling to the hands and arms and even difficulty moving fingers."

skin infection

Although not usually considered life-threatening, the infection can worsen over time. Those who leave it untreated for weeks or months may have to undergo surgery.

The health department says some of those who were infected "have been treated with traditional Chinese medicine or types of antibiotics." These type of treatments, the department says, do NOT cure the infection.

Those handling raw fish at New York seafood markets have been instructed to wear waterproof gloves.

The health department added that those who eat seafood from the Chinatown markets are not at risk of infection.

A report in October found that M. marinum infections from aquariums were being under-diagnosed.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.

CONVERSATIONS