On June 28, 2016, the Hong Kong Centre for Health Proyection (CHP) recorded a case of Streptococcus suis infection affecting a 55-year-old man with good past health.

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

He presented with headache, cough with sputum, vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss on June 22 and was admitted to a public hospital on June 24. His blood and cerebrospinal fluid sample collected grew Streptococcus suis. He was treated with antibiotics and his condition was stable.

He worked as a butcher in a wet market who had handled raw pork during the incubation period. He recalled an abrasion injury over his right middle finger a few days before illness onset. His home contacts and colleagues were asymptomatic.

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.