Reports keep coming in of a rare and serious skin infection borne from handling raw seafood that’s spreading throughout New York City’s Chinese and other Asian-American neighborhoods. Infected victims have either handled the raw food with open sores on their hands, or have cut their hands on the shells of shellfish. The resulting infection presents itself as serious red welts, which Dr. Danny Fong, a hand surgeon and president of the Chinese American Medical Society, told The Daily Meal, can take three months of antibiotics and in serious cases, surgery, to recover from. Making matters worse is that doctors and seafood experts still have no clue what’s going on.
“This infection is so rare that I haven’t kept track of it before,” Dr. Fong told The Daily Meal. “Eating it is not the issue, touching it isn’t a problem; it’s the fact that there are spines, and if you’re not careful you can get poked. The question is: are we seeing this at its peak or are there more.”
Right now The New York Times is reporting that there have been 30 recent cases of this infection caused by the Mycobacterium marinum, a bacteria that often infects fish and sea creatures in aquariums, but rarely affects humans. Right now the infection seems to mainly be affecting elderly Asians, and cases have only been seen in New York City.