Bacterial transfers

 
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

from mad cow to mad fish. It is not the disease by another name; instead it is a "brand new disease" according to Donald Low, head of the department of microbiology at Mount Sinai and Princess Margret hospitals in Ottawa. This is passed on to the humans from the fish and the instigator is the Streptococcus iniae bacterium.

Previously thought to infect only fish, the bacterium has been detected in humans too. While it leads to the bulging out of eyes in the fish, and erratic swimming before they finally die, it causes rapid inflammation of the human skin. Out of the seven persons currently infected with the disease, one has also developed meningitis although the link is not clear.

Doctors believe that the infection mainly occurred through the handling of the whole fish during the cleaning process, and advise wearing of gloves when doing the same. However, it was not possible to catch the disease by eating it. "Most of the people who were infected with the disease had caught the bug while cleaning tilapia, a fresh water fish usually sold whole", said Phillis Wyper, infection control officer at the Scarborough Grace Hospital.

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