Southern Brooklyn

Health Department Warns Of Skin Infection Outbreak From Raw Fish Purchased At Chinese Markets

Mycobacterium marinum infection of the arm of a fish-tank worker.
An example of the infection in its earlier stages. These spots can grow into lesions and spread into the muscle tissue, making surgery necessary. (Source: CDC)

At least 30 people have been diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection after handling raw fish at Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Chinese markets, spurring the New York City Department of Health to warn residents to take precautions.

The department is urging anyone who handles live or raw fish to wear waterproof gloves and to avoid direct contact with the seafood. There is no risk from consuming the food once it has been cooked, the agency notes.

The bacteria that causes the infection, Mycobacterium marinum, leads to symptoms including tender swelling and red bumps, as well as pain and difficulty moving fingers. It enters the body through cuts or injuries while handling live or raw seafood. Although easy to combat early on, if left untreated it could significantly worsen and require surgical treatment.

So far, cases have been linked to all three boroughs. The case found in Brooklyn was traced back to a Sunset Park market.

If you believe you have symptoms of the infection, you can call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at (347) 396-2600 and ask to speak to a physician.

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  1. “… to wear waterproof gloves and to not avoid direct contact with the seafood.”

    to not avoid direct contact, Ned? Not sure if that’s an error that needs to be corrected or not, maybe it’s the way I’m reading it, but that doesn’t make sense to me, loll

  2. There was no mention of it, and I believe the supply comes from entirely different places with different handling and inspection practices. I’ll drop Health Dept. a note to see what they say.

  3. Health says there are no cases in the medical literature suggesting that this infection can be obtained from eating raw seafood – apparently it’s contact with the skin on the hands and arms only. I pointed out that sushi is often eaten with the hands, but they would not / could not really speak more about it.

  4. Years ago on these Bite pages, I forecast an outbreak of disease of epidemic proportions in Chinatown due to unsanitary food handling and that Phlegm-hacking spitting men on the Brighton subway platforms would infect riders and kill hundreds. To date, I have been 100% wrong. I congratulate our public health officers for their good work and only hope I continue to be incorrect on these infectious matters.


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