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Rare outbreak of skin infections linked to seafood markets

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CHINATOWN (PIX11) – The pictures of Mycobacterium Marinum are as unpleasant as the symptoms. A rare skin infection that the Department of Health has linked to 30 patients so far, prompting a warning to people who handle raw or live fish or seafood.

Jay Varma is the Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control at the Department of Health says the patients interviewed so far all came into contact with fish purchased from a variety of seafood markets in Chinatown in Manhattan, Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens.

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Officials say the infection could require surgery if left untreated. (Photos: NYC Department of Health)

All of those who were infected had cuts or wounds on their hand through which the bacteria infected the individual. Symptoms include red, tender swelling underneath the skin of the hands and arms, sometimes leading to difficulty moving hands or fingers. If untreated the infection can move deeper into tissues but rarely results in fatalities.

The DOH is asking those who come into contact with raw and live seafood to wear waterproof gloves and emphasizes the fish from those markets is safe to eat.

The outbreak was detected after a Dermatologist in Chinatown began noticing a unique rash in multiple patients. After reporting his finding to the DOH, tests came back positive for M. Marinum.