What is the diagnosis for Fish-Handler's Disease?
Fish-handler's disease occurs when cuts or scrapes in the skin become infected with the bacteria Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae and other species. This is an erysipeloid infection. Handling and preparing fish and shellfish and many other similar activities can create small cuts and scrapes in the skin, where bacteria may enter. Developing fish-handler's disease requires deliberate contact with fish, particularly lobster and other shellfish. Fish-handler's disease occurs worldwide wherever fish and shellfish are handled. Fish-handler's disease also occurs when cuts or scrapes in the skin become infected with Mycobacterium ssp., mainly the species marinum and fortuitum. Handling tropical fish, coral, cleaning aquariums, swimming pools, fishing, lobster catching, and many other similar activities can introduce these bacteria into cuts and scrapes. This disease is worldwide and can be associated with almost any organism that inhabits saltwater, freshwater, or brackish water. One of the newest outbreaks occurred in Chesapeake Bay with about 76% of striped bass found to have an infection with Mycobacterium. Fish or other aquatic organisms with visible surface lesions should be not be handled with bare hands (wear gloves to help prevent infections) and not eaten. However, cooked aquatic organisms have not been reported to cause fish-handler's disease.