Hong Kong health officials are investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection in a 28-year-old man with underlying medical illness.
The case had developed diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever since August 21. He was admitted to a private hospital for management on August 22. The patient has been in a stable condition all along.
His stool specimen grew STEC upon laboratory testing.
The Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) investigation revealed that the patient resided in the United States, arrived in Hong Kong on August 20, then traveled to Guangdong from August 20 to 22. He also has no recent history of consumption of unpasteurized milk or raw food, nor contact with animals or visits to farms.
His home contact has remained asymptomatic. The CHP’s investigations are ongoing.
“Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless. Some strains, however, such as STEC, can produce powerful toxins and cause severe food-borne disease.
The most recognised serogroup of STEC is E. coli O157:H7,” a spokesman for the CHP explained.
Preventive measures for STEC infections are similar to those recommended for other food-borne diseases. The public are advised to observe good personal and food hygiene:
•Wash hands properly with liquid soap and water before eating or handling food, and after going to the toilet or changing diapers;
•Cook food and boil water thoroughly before consumption.
Most food-borne viruses and bacteria (including STEC) can be killed when food is cooked or reheated long enough at sufficient high temperature. When cooking or reheating, the core temperature of the food should reach at least 75 degrees Celsius;
•Avoid consumption of unpasteurised milk or undercooked food; and
•Consult a doctor immediately if symptoms of STEC infection, particularly bloody diarrhea, develop.
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