According to officials with the National Tropical Disease in Hanoi Saturday, three men were hospitalized and one died after eating raw pig blood curd during Lunar New Year festivities, according to state media.

Image/Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Image/Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The report states: a 60 year old man from the northern province of Nam Dinh suffered high fever, acute diarrhea and rash in the body. He also had septic shock and organ failure when he was transferred from the General Hospital in Nam Dinh Province to the National Tropical Disease, where he died from “swine bacteria”. 

The other two patients, men in their 40s, are currently being treated in intensive care for meningitis due to “swine bacteria”.

The “swine bacteria”, while not identified in the report, is believed to be Streptococcus suis.

Human Streptococcus suis infection is a zoonotic infection associated with pigs. The infection can be fatal, particularly if the specific strain produces certain toxins. S. suis infection can manifest itself in meningitis, toxic shock, septicemia and endocarditis.

Eating undercooked infected pork and blood paste are common ways people contract the disease.

Proper cooking of pork meat or porcine organs eliminates the risk of infection with Streptococcus suis. The infection in humans is not only seen in those who consume raw pork, but also in those who slaughter and prepare the meals.

Streptococcus suis infection can be treated with appropriate antibiotics.

To prevent the disease, members of the public are advised to always practise personal and environmental hygiene. They should avoid contact with pigs that are sick or dead from diseases and their excreta or body fluid. If contact with pigs or raw pork is necessary, one should:

* Use protective gloves;
* Wash hands after handling pigs or raw pork; and
* Clean and cover all wounds properly.