Fish Tuberculosis In Hobbyists

More than six months ago I was doing some cleaning of my sponge filters when I felt a sharp pain in my middle finger.

It turned out that a fish had died in that aquarium, and several of the bones had ended up in the sponge filter. As I had squeezed the filter to clean it, my finger was punctured by the bone. This had happened before, so I didn’t think too much about it.

After several months, however, I began to notice that the last joint in the middle finger on my right hand was beginning to swell and was tender to the touch. After about a month of this condition, I finally went to the doctor for examination.

We tried antibiotics and when no improvement was observed, an x-ray was taken.

It appeared that there may have been a small fragment in the finger, so I was sent to a hand specialist. He looked at the x-rays and felt that was nothing in relation to my symptoms. We again tried antibiotics as well as  steroids for the swelling.

After being on the steroids for about a month, the joint was just about back to normal when I noticed the middle joint on the same finger starting to swell and get red.

At this time, I ran across an article dealing with an infection of Mycobacterium marinea. The symptoms included swelling often of  the major hand with redness and not a lot of pain. There can be a lesion or an infection of the bone.

When I presented this article to the doctor, he sent me to an infection specialist. Samples were sent to the lab for culturing, and they came back negative for both aerobic bacteria and for Mycobacterium marinea. I was put on long term treatment with Doxycycline and am about 2/3 through the initial 3 month treatment.

It is looking slightly better, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I have to stay in treatment for more than 3 months. Fortunately there is not a lot of pain involved unless I hit it with something or try to put my hand in my pocket. At it’s peak it was really ugly and swollen.

If you start to see these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of this particular infection. I would suspect it’s not a common occurrence, and your doctor may not familiar with this particular organism.

By Denny | November 23, 2010 @ 7:34 pm | No comments

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