The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a fatal case of infection by Streptococcus suis, a kind of bacteria isolated from pigs, affecting a 57-year-old man.
The patient, with underlying illness, had developed fever, chills, diarrhea and generalised weakness since August 19. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tseung Kwan O Hospital (TKOH) on August 20 and was directly admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. The patient passed away subsequently on the same day.
The clinical diagnosis is septic shock with multi-organ failure. His blood specimen collected on August 20 grew Streptococcus suis by TKOH.
Initial investigation by CHP revealed that the patient had no history of consumption or contact with raw or undercooked pork. He had no recent travel history and his home contacts remain asymptomatic.
The case was referred to the Coroner’s Court for investigation.
A CHP spokesman explained that Streptococcus suis infection may present as meningitis (inflammation of the membrane enclosing the brain), septicaemia (bloodstream infection), and less commonly endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart chambers), arthritis and bronchopneumonia (a kind of lung infection involving the bronchioles). Streptococcus suis infection can be treated with appropriate antibiotics.
To prevent Streptococcus suis infection, members of the public are advised to always practise personal and environmental hygiene. They should avoid contact with pigs that are sick or dead from diseases and their excreta or body fluid. If contact with pigs or raw pork is necessary, one should:
* Use protective gloves;
* Wash hands after handling pigs or raw pork; and
* Clean and cover all wounds properly.
Members of the public who suspected to have the infection should consult their doctors as soon as possible and report their relevant exposure histories.