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DOH: Rare Skin Infection Linked to Chinatown Seafood Markets

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TWC News: DOH: Rare Skin Infection Linked to Chinatown Seafood Markets
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City health officials have issued a warning after outbreaks of a rare skin infection linked to Chinatown seafood markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

The Department of Health says that 30 people have recently developed a rare bacterial skin infection after touching raw fish.

Marketgoers in Manhttan's Chinatown expressed concern when they heard the warning and saw pictures of the red skin, lumps and swelling on the hands and arms of those infected.

Doctors say you must use waterproof gloves if you handle uncooked fish or seafood or, at the very least, wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

The bacteria gets transferred from contaminated live or raw fish or seafood to people through a break in the skin, like a cut.

"This is not an infection that you can get from eating fish or seafood," said Dr. Jay Varma of the New York City Department of Health. "It's only from actually handling intensely with your hands."

The Department of Health says that all of those infected handled uncooked fish or seafood from markets in Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan's Chinatowns.

"What we're doing right now is working very actively to try to figure out what it is about these markets, is it the market themselves, is it the fish or seafood themselves, that needs to be addressed so that people are no longer at risk if they're handling fish or seafood," Varma said.

This infection does not spread person to person. Antibiotics can cure it, but surgery might be necessary.

Doctors do expect that reports of infection will jump as people learn about it.

Anyone who thinks they may have the infection is asked to see a doctor immediately or call the Department of Health.

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