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Fish-Handler's Disease (cont.)

Fish-Handler's Disease Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms for fish-handler's disease caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae and other species are as follows:

  • The disease generally develops two to seven days after injury to the skin and subsequent bacterial infection.
  • A sharply defined, red-purple circular area appears and surrounds the puncture; the center usually fades, and occasionally a vesicle (blister-like lesion) may appear.
  • The area of injury increases in diameter by about ½ inch per day.
  • Joint stiffness, lymph node swelling, and pain, burning, itching, and swelling at the infection site may accompany the infection.
  • Rarely, the disease may progress to produce sepsis (infection of the bloodstream) and endocarditis (infection of the heart valves).

Symptoms for fish-handler's disease caused by Mycobacterium species are as follows:

  • The disease generally develops about two to four weeks after exposure, although up to nine months postexposure has been reported.
  • Skin lesions are often multiple and linear but can be single.
  • Lesions can appear as nodules, abscesses, or ulcers, with skin color changes, and develop slowly (months).
  • Joint pain, lymph node swelling, and tendonitis may develop.
  • Rarely, the disease may progress to sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).


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The phylum Echinodermata includes a diverse group of marine animals that are slow moving and nonaggressive, including brittle stars (class Ophiuroidea), starfish (class Asteroidea), sea urchins (class Echinoidea), and sea cucumbers (class Holothuroidea).

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