The city Health Department said the fish and seafood are safe to eat if cooked. But touching it has caused at least 30 people to develop a gruesome skin infection. The people affected handled fish bought at markets in Chinatown neighborhoods of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
EaSure, you can eat fish bought in Chinatown. Just don’t touch it before you cook it.
The city Health Department identified an outbreak of a rare skin infection in people who handle raw or live fish or seafood. At least 30 people who touched the fish purchased at markets in the Chinatown neighborhoods of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens were affected, according to authorities.
Individual cases of the bacterial infection, known as aquarium granuloma, are highly uncommon — there hasn’t been an outbreak in New York City for at least 20 years — say experts.
It was first detected by doctors who see patients in largely Chinese communities and noticed the symptoms, which can turn gruesome if left unattended for weeks.
Those who notice red bumps on their hands or arms, swelling under their skin or difficulty in moving their fingers should seek immediate medical attention, officials said.
If left untreated, the infection — which enters the skin through a cut or other injury — can morph into something much worse that requires surgery, officials said.
BEBETO MATTHEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
It's safe to eat the fish you buy at the city's Chinese markets if you cook it. Health officials, however, said they are still investigating the outbreak that caused the skin infection.
“Some people who were infected have been treated with traditional Chinese medicine or types of antibiotics that cannot cure the infection,” the agency said in a statement.
The nauseating news left fish fanatics with a foul taste in their mouths.
“You have to be careful where you buy your fish now,” said David Williams, 45, who usually buys fish from the Chinatown markets. “I’m going to go to other places. This needs to be investigated so the bad fish don’t make it to the markets.”
His friend, Derrick McDonald, 47, said he would chomp on something a little more meaty for the moment.
“This is bad news. I’m not going to eat fish now,” he said. “I'm sticking with steak. I don’t want to get a skin infection.”
But there is also good news for pescetarians — eating the cooked fish won’t hurt anyone, officials said.
PALOMA DE LA CRUZ//NYC HEALTH DEPARTMENT
If you notice red bumps like this one, you may have caught the skin-attacking bacteria that have affected at least 30 people who touched seafood at the city's Chinese markets. You should seek immediate medical attention, officials said.
Plus, the infection cannot spread from one person to another.
Hamie Cho said she wasn’t fazed by the fish-related disease.
“I’m not worried about it,” the 30-year-old said while surveying the seafood at a market in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
“I’m here to buy fish, aren’t I?” she added. “Just be careful.”
Health officials said they are still investigating the outbreak.
They encourage those handling fish to wear waterproof gloves and wash their hands.
To seek help, call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at (347) 396-2600.