Hong Kong health officials reported today a case of Streptococcus suis infection in a 57-year-old man.


The patient with underlying illness, has presented with fever, headache, vomiting, dizziness and painful swelling of his right elbow since March 7. He sought medical attention from the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 9, and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for management directly.

The clinical diagnosis was meningitis. He is now in a critical condition.

His cerebrospinal fluid sample tested positive for Streptococcus suis upon laboratory testing.

Initial inquiries revealed that the patient worked as a butcher in a wet market locally. He had no recent travel history and home contacts have so far remained asymptomatic.

Streptococcus suis infection, a kind of bacteria from pigs, commonly presents as meningitis with fever, headache and vomiting. It may also present with skin bleeding and, less commonly, sepsis, endocarditis, arthritis and bronchopneumonia. The characteristic complication is deafness which is likely to remain permanent.

“Streptococcus suis infection is transmitted through direct contact and is often related to exposure through wounds on the skin while handling infected pigs or pork. High-risk groups include pig breeders, abattoir workers, meat processing and transport workers, butchers, and cooks. Persons who are immunocompromised including those with the spleen removed and persons with diabetes, cancer and alcoholism are also at higher risk,” a spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said.

To prevent Streptococcus suis infection, members of the public should observe personal, hand and food hygiene:

  • Avoid contact with pigs;
  • When handling pigs or raw pork, wear protective gloves and avoid injury;
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling pigs or raw pork;
  • Disinfect and cover wounds properly;
  • Raw pork and cooked food should be handled and kept separately;
  • Pork should be cooked thoroughly before consumption; and
  • Do not bring meat into Hong Kong without a permit.

“If symptoms develop, consult a doctor as soon as possible and reveal possible exposure to pigs or raw pork,” the spokesman added.