Outbreak of dangerous infections linked to freshwater fish stocks in Hong Kong

On October 20, the health authority of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China) confirmed the outbreak of a dangerous infection after detecting many cases of the disease related to the same source of water fish sweet.

The health authority of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China) has confirmed an outbreak of group B Streptococcus infection related to freshwater fish stocks. Photo: scmp.com
The health authority of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China) has confirmed an outbreak of group B Streptococcus infection related to freshwater fish stocks. Photo: scmp.com

According to a reporter in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection (CHP) said that from September to October 10, authorities detected 79 cases of group B Streptococcus bacteria infection in patients who were hospitalized. treatment at the hospital. Of these, 32 cases carried a strain known as serotype III sequencer, type 283, which was nearly identical in genetic sequence to the five fish or environmental samples collected at markets where some of the patients had visited.

So far, 7 out of 79 patients infected with the bacteria have died. Some patients have been to a market on Yeung Uk Street in Tsuen Wan and a shop at Kai Tei in Yuen Long.

Investigations revealed that some of the patients handled freshwater fish, including grass carp, prior to infection. Some people reported handling live freshwater fish even though they had wounds on their hands. Others recounted that they ate “fresh boiled fish porridge,” a popular dish in which raw fish fillets are placed in boiling porridge.

The CHP believes that people handling raw freshwater fish with a wound to their hand or eating undercooked freshwater fish could be the cause of the infection.

The exact cause of the outbreak is still under investigation.

Ha Bach Luong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Hong Kong, said some cases had serious infections in the brain and heart. He called on the authorities to warn chefs, housewives and housekeepers about the risks and trace the source of suspected infected fish. If bacteria can be detected in fish from certain sources over an extended period of time, the authorities should cut that supply chain.

Meanwhile, Tang Ky An, an infectious disease expert, warned that women who had just given birth and babies were at higher risk of infection. Therefore, he advised people to avoid choosing raw fish by themselves at the market and wear gloves when handling seafood at home and cook the fish thoroughly. People with hand wounds, weakened immunity or chronic conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, as well as steroid users should take extra care.

Group B Streptococcus is a bacterium commonly found in the intestinal tract, urinary tract, and reproductive tract. This bacteria is usually harmless and doesn't lead to any symptoms, but can also infect the blood, bones, lungs, or the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

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