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Dermatology Online Journal

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Mycobacterium marinum lymphocutaneous infection


Mycobacterium marinum is a nontuberculous mycobacteria with worldwide distribution that lives in fresh or salt water and is responsible for infections in fish, and sometimes in humans. Human disease consists mainly of cutaneous nodules, but deep structure involvement may also occur. Diagnosis of M. marinum infection remains a challenge, with a considerable time delay between onset of symptoms and diagnosis. We present a 33-year-old man with no immunosuppressive history who was seen in our department with skin nodules over his hand and forearm, distributed in a sporotrichoid pattern. His hobbies included maintaining an aquarium of tropical fish. Histological examination of the patient's skin biopsy was compatible with the diagnosis of mycobacterial infection, and the Ziehl-Neelsen staining revealed acid-fast bacilli. Molecular techniques confirmed the suspicion of M. marinum infection. A necropsy was performed on one of the patient's fish, more specifically, a Poecilia reticulata, and resulted in identification of M. marinum from its gut. The patient was treated with clarithromycin, ethambutol, and rifampicin for 9 months, with clearance of infection.

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