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What is the treatment for a Mycobacterium marinum infection?

Most infections are treated medically with a fairly long course of oral antibiotics. The length of the course of antibiotics varies. Medications may be required anywhere from three to six months or even up to 18 months depending on the severity of the disease and spread of the infection. Typically, physicians may recommend continuing the medications for an additional four to six weeks even after all of the symptoms have fully cleared.

The gold standard for treatment of infection by M. marinum is oral antibiotics. Clarithromycin with ethambutol is currently the preferred antibiotic selection. Rifampin is typically added to the antibiotics regimen if deeper organ infection is present, such as bone infection (osteomyelitis).

Some milder infections (mainly in healthy people) have cleared on their own without any treatment. Rarely, surgical treatment and drainage of deeper tissue or skin infections may become necessary in more complicated cases. However, medical treatment remains the primary and preferred treatment for nearly all cases.

Return to Mycobacterium Marinum

See what others are saying

Comment from: jonny, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: March 27

I got pricked by a frozen prawn that I was feeding to my marine fish. I remember washing my hands with disinfectant. Two to 3 weeks later, a red saw came up on the knuckle of my thumb, about 5mm. It started to form an ulcer after a few more weeks (open wound). I didn't know what this was and tried a few antibiotic creams, fungal creams, etc., that were lying around at home. Nothing worked so I went to the doctor. He prescribed antibiotics, but no result. I went back to the doctor and got referred to skin specialist. I hadn't realized at the time it was connected to the prawn prick, as it was weeks after, that the red nodule came up. Anyway, the skin specialist told me it was rare, and started me on a 4 month treatment on Bactrim DS. It cleared up after around 3 months of antibiotics. I also got 2 nodules popping up on my fore arm, around 5mm. They felt like hard little balls under my skin. The doctor also told me to use heat packs for 5 to 10 minutes on top of the nodules as hot as I could bear. This Mycobacterium marinum bacteria does not like the heat. I'm all fixed now, but not many doctors know about it.

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Comment from: Joan P., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 22

I was a seafood manager at a large supermarket chain for many years. We would defrost lots of shrimp every day. A frozen shrimp tail is like a knife. I was often punctured by tails and never had a problem. One day in 1990 I was punctured in my left index finger. I went home, woke up the next day with hand painfully swollen! I was sent to hospital where they took MRI, then lanced and bandaged it. It has reoccurred hundreds of times over the years. I have had exploratory surgery, nuclear resonance testing, every antibiotic known to man, countless lancing and biopsies. I was even invited to University of Pennsylvania hospital where I was seen by many, many doctors... none of whom could diagnose this! I found a marine biologist online who was the first to suggest Mycobacterium marinum. I have had no luck finding anyone to get it to grow in a lab! So incredibly frustrating!

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Comment from: paul, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: November 01

My medications for this were clarithromycin 500 mg tablets, rifampicin 600 mg tablets and ethambutol 800 mg tablets.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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