The New York City Health Department announced an outbreak of a rare skin infection this week. It is being associated with people who came into contact with raw or live seafood at Chinatown markets.
At least 30 people who touched the fish in question were infected with this rare type of bacteria, called aquarium granuloma. New York City hasn’t seen an outbreak of the bacteria in 20 years, according to medical experts.
“This is a very uncommon bacteria, so the fact that we’ve detected 30 cases so far suggests that something has changed, either about the water in the tank or the tanks themselves or the types of fish or seafood that are causing this problem,” Dr. Jay Varma, the health department's deputy commissioner for disease control, said.
The infection leaves red bumps on the hands or arms and can also swell underneath the skin. Those infected may have difficulty moving their fingers.
If left untreated, the infection can become significantly worse and require surgery.
Medical professionals suggest that anyone dealing with seafood from the Chinatown markets should wear waterproof gloves. While raw seafood should be treated with caution, eating it cooked is not considered dangerous.