Mycobacterium Marinum (cont.)
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG
Frederick Hecht, MD, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Hecht is a Pediatrician and Medical Geneticist and is certified by both the American Boards of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. Dr. Hecht was born and raised in Baltimore and attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. and the Sorbonne at the University of Paris receiving his BA degree cum laude with distinction from Dartmouth.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is Mycobacterium marinum?
- What are other names for Mycobacterium marinum?
- How common is Mycobacterium marinum?
- How does a person get infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
- Who is at risk for Mycobacterium marinum infection?
- What are the symptoms of Mycobacterium marinum infection?
- What tests are available to diagnose the infection?
- How is Mycobacterium marinum infection treated?
- What is the prognosis for those infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
- How do I find a specialist?
- What are possible complications from Mycobacterium marinum?
- Do fish get infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
- What else could it be?
- How can I prevent this infection?
How common is Mycobacterium marinum?
Although rare, infections can occur worldwide, most commonly in individuals with occupational and recreational exposure to fresh or saltwater. In the United States, infections caused by M. marinum are rare, with an annual estimated annual incidence of 0.27 cases per 100,000 adults. Of the approximately 100-150 annual cases, most are simple skin infections. The infection is very rare in children and is typically a disease of adults.
How does a person get infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
Human infections with M. marinum under normal circumstances are rare. People are prone to this infection when there is minor trauma to an extremity like the forearm before or during contact with marine animals like fish or turtles, or just an aquarium, saltwater or freshwater.
However, people who have minor breaks in the skin such as small cuts or scrapes are at increased risk
- when in contact with water from an aquarium or fish tank,
- when handling, cleaning, or processing fish, or
- while swimming or working in fresh or salt water.
One form of the infection, known as "swimming pool granuloma," can occur when there is inadequate chlorination of swimming pools. However, in the U.S., most human infections with this bacteria have been associated with contact with fish tanks.
M. marinum infection is not spread from person to person. It is also not transmitted in hospitals like other common bacteria.
Who is at risk for Mycobacterium marinum infection?
People at highest risk include home-aquarium hobbyists, swimmers, aquarium workers, marine-life handlers, anglers, and oyster workers. Overall, anyone with frequent or persistent saltwater or freshwater exposure is at potential risk. Here is a list of at risk people:
- personal home-aquarium owners
- professionals who clean aquariums
- marine biologists
- fishermen and workers exposed to saltwater fish
- immunocompromised patients (HIV/AIDS)
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