Station sterilized after meningococcal outbreak

Top News | Riley Chan 13 Apr 2018

The MTR has sterilized Kowloon Tong station after a platform assistant was diagnosed with an invasive meningococcal infection.

The Centre for Health Protection is investigating the case, which involves a 60-year-old man with an underlying illness. He has had fever, cough and generalized weakness since April 8.

The man was admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital the next day and transferred to the intensive care unit. He is in critical condition.

His blood culture tested positive for Neisseria meningitidis and he was diagnosed as suffering from meningococcemia.

The MTR confirmed the patient was a station assistant at Kowloon Tong station. It ordered a thorough cleanup of the station.

"As a precaution, we have followed CHP guidelines by deploying cleaners to clean thoroughly the station, using bleach at the station area, and we also arranged enhanced cleaning of air filters," a spokesman said.

As normal procedure, facilities on trains and in stations such as escalators, ticket machines, ticket gates and lifts are cleaned every four hours with 1:99 bleach water solution.

The MTR has alerted station staff to symptoms such as fever or coughing, and to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and alert their supervisors in the event they have such symptoms, the spokesman said.

The CHP said meningococcemia is a communicable disease transmitted by direct contact through respiratory secretions, including droplets from the nose and throat, from infected persons. The incubation period varies from two to 10 days, though usually from three or four days.

Severe illness may result when the bacteria invade the bloodstream or the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord.

The disease can cause brain damage or even death. The brain damage may lead to intellectual impairment, mental retardation, hearing loss and electrolyte imbalance. Invasive meningococcal infections can be complicated by arthritis, inflammation of the heart muscle, inflammation of the posterior chamber of the eye or chest infection.

The CHP reminded people to wash their hands properly, especially after sneezing.

Separately, it reported an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in a primary school in Tai Po yesterday.

The outbreak affected 23 students, 15 boys and eight girls, aged 8 to 11, who have been suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains and fever since April 10. Among them, 20 sought medical attention, but no one required hospitalization.

CHP officers conducted a site visit and provided health advice to the school staff relating to proper and thorough disinfection, proper disposal of vomit, and personal and environmental hygiene.

The school has been placed under medical surveillance.

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