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Always Wear Waterproof Gloves When Cleaning Your Fish Tank

New study points to bacterial infection to those cleaning aquariums with open sores on their hands or arms.

October 7, 2013

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Your aquarium gives you hours of enjoyment everyday and part of that enjoyment is cleaning and maintaining your tank. But were you aware that not taking the proper precautions when cleaning your tank can make you sick? Many advanced aquarists, and especially those keeping saltwater tanks are aware of the bacteria that are found in a fish tank, but many new to the hobby are unaware of the potential dangers that can be found in a tank.

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A new study from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit shows that the bacteria Mycobacterium marinum can be found in home aquariums and those aquarists who clean their tanks can become infected if their hands or arms have open cuts or scraped and the wounds are exposed to aquarium water. The study says that the bacteria enters the water through the cuts, but skin lesions don't appear on the hands and arms for two to four weeks, the time in which it takes for the bacteria to incubate.


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"People just don’t know or think about their fish tank harboring this bacterial organism,” Dr. George Alangaden, the study's lead author told eMaxHealth. Alangaden presented his findings Oct. 5 at the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting. His study reported on five aquarists who were treated for Mycobacterium marinum with antibiotics, but they didn't seek proper treatment for more than 161 days, on average. The bacteria are found in both salt and freshwater and are known to affect more than 150 fish and invertebrates. So how do you protect yourself? Always wear waterproof gloves when working in the aquarium, and wash your hands and forearms completely with soap and water after working in the aquarium.

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Roy    Miami, FL

10/8/2013 12:27:05 PM

Great article and a little scary to think about this. Although it has been in the news for several years most of us, myself included think that this is just a fluke and very rare and unlucky problem, but seems to be much more common in our days with more virulent and resistant bacterial strains.

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