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.
A New York City woman set off 44 bug foggers in her Chinatown hair salon last week in an attempt to end a serious roach infestation, but she failed to turn off a pilot light. The highly flammable fumes blew up the five-story building injuring a dozen people.
FDNY investgators found boxes of Raid fumigating foggers and Decon bug bombs all over the Piao Liang Ren Scheng Beauty Salon, reported the Daily News.
The woman apparently set off 20 bombs on Wednesday. On Thursday she set off about two-dozen more, according to the Associated Press.
At 12:45 p.m. Thursday an explosion occurred on the first floor rear of the salon on 17 Pike St. A minor ceiling collapsed and a fire erupted, spreading quickly to the upper floors.
When the FDNY arrived, tenants were on their fire escapes pleading for help. A firefighter found one man unconscious inside his apartment, and using a bucket-ladder was able to get him to safety.
In all, eight people were rescued from the burning building. Two were in critical condition, two more had their conditions listed as serious.
A police source to the Daily News the bug bombs were “used improperly.” Fire investigators are also checking to see if a gas leak was involved, according to FDNY Assistant Chief Robert Boyce.
Boyce said four firefighters were injured in the blaze, which took an hour to get under control.
Xia Jing Mei told the Daily News that her aunt, who lives on the building’s top floor barely got out alive.
“[We] ran right outside,” said Mei. “I got out and there were these huge flames behind me.”
The incident is being considered an accident.
“We did have existing codes violations for this building. We’re looking into them,” Boyce said without going into detail.
It is unclear if the woman who set of the bug bombs will face charges.