All New Yorkers are familiar with the sights (and smells) of Chinatown. But the omnipresent fish markets, which are an important part of the commerce of the neighborhood, may also be responsible for a sudden increase in skin infections amongst fishmongers.

Health officials have declared an outbreak, extending from Manhattan’s Chinatown throughout the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, and have identified live and raw fish, as well as other assorted shellfish, as the probable cause. More specifically, the bacteria aquarium granuloma may be to blame, a hyper-rare strain unseen around these parts for over two decades. Over 30 cases have been reported.

The rarity of the infection has officials scratching their heads- the infection’s symptomatic blisters have residents scratching themselves.

Evidently, the fish that are causing these rashes are completely safe to eat once cooked- it’s the ungloved handling of the fish that’s the problem. The infection manifests in the form of small to medium sized red blisters, reaching as high as the wrist and lower forearm. Sometimes, there is subdermal swelling or tightness of the joints.

So what to do if fish is on the menu? On the proprietor-side, all those tasked with handling fish should be wearing waterproof gloves at all times. They should also remain diligent about washing their hands. Shoppers should ask for their purchases to be adequately wrapped, and should take extreme caution during the preparatory process in the kitchen.

If you do contract the infection, it’s imperative you seek immediate treatment. Waiting too long can lead to a drastic worsening of your condition. Punctual attention normally means a simple, topical solution to your problem. Procrastination may make surgical treatment necessary. If you’ve been infected, you may be entitled to monetary compensation, that’ll help you with all related medical bills. If you’re unsure about your rights, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC for a free consultation. We can help guide you through your process.

Since the infection seems to be communicable via human contact, it may be wise to forego the handshake when sealing your fish deals. Until officials have this thing figured out and contained, that is.