The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 20) investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 infection, and hence reminded the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene against intestinal infections.
The boy, aged 3 with good past health, has developed fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough and runny nose since June 10, and was admitted to a private hospital for management on June 12. He has been in a stable condition all along and was discharged on June 15.
His stool specimen tested positive for STEC O157:H7 upon laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.
Initial enquiries revealed that the patient had no recent travel history. He had contact with animals during the incubation period, but did not consume unpasteurised milk or raw food.
His home contacts have 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 recognized 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 eating unpasteurized milk or undercooked food; and
* Consult a doctor immediately if symptoms of STEC infection, particularly bloody diarrhea, develop.