Citizens urged to avoid picking up raw fish by hand following deadly disease

Local | 20 Oct 2021 10:08 am

A doctor advises citizens to avoid picking up raw fish by hand after Hong Kong saw 79 cases of  invasive Group B Streptococcus cases in two months, which led to the deaths of seven of the patients.

The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health has received reports by the Hospital Authority that 79 in-patients had tested positive for invasive Group B Streptococcus from last month to October 10 – a surge as compared with a range of nine to 26 cases per month over the past three years.

The 79 cases involve 42 males and 37 females, aged from one month to 96 years. They mainly had with septicaemia, meningitis, pyogenic arthritis or cellulitis.

Investigations show that some of the patients had handled freshwater fish, including grass carp, before the onset of the disease. Some of them had reported handling raw freshwater fish with hand wounds.

On a radio program on Wednesday, infectious disease specialist Joseph Tsang Kay-yan said the bacteria can damage different organs if it enters the bloodstream.

If patients are diagnosed within 24 to 48 hours of infection, doctors can prescribe antibiotics to stop their condition from deteriorating.

Invasive Group B Streptococcus is more common in women who just gave birth and in newborn babies.

He recommended citizens to avoid picking up raw fishes at wet markets by hand, and to put on gloves when they handle seafood at home. They should also cook the seafood thoroughly.

Those with hand wounds, with compromised immunity and those suffering from chronic illnesses, including diabetes and kidney diseases, as well as those who consume steroids should pay extra attention, he said.

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