New York City has now documented 66 cases of people contracting rare skin infections after handling fish in the city’s Chinatown fish markets. That number has doubled since March, when only 30 cases of the infection had been confirmed.
A spokesman from the city Health Department said symptoms of the infection include red bumps on arms and hands accompanied by swelling under the skin and difficulty moving fingers. One woman who contracted the infection in November said “It feels like something is biting my skin."
The Health Department spokesman reiterated that the city is taking the infections seriously.
“We are investigating each reported case, and still advise anyone handling live or raw fish or seafood to wear waterproof gloves,” spokesman Levi Fishman said. (That last name can’t be a coincidence.)
The bacterial infection is identified as aquarium granuloma. It is also known as fish tank granuloma or swimming pool granuloma. The bacteria enters the body through an open wound, and symptoms typically surface three weeks after contact. The infection often responds to antibiotics, but surgery is required in extreme cases.
According to the New York Daily News, 38 cases have been reported in Brooklyn, seven in queens, 13 in Manhattan, three in Staten Island, and five outside of New York City.