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Public urged to guard against bacillary dysentery

    The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (April 11) is investigating a bacillary dysentery outbreak affecting at least 10 persons of a tour group and urged members of the public to observe good personal and food hygiene.

    The tour group of 21 persons traveled to Cambodia from March 29 to April 2. CHP is contacting the tour members. So far, 5 men and 5 women aged from 26 to 65, developed fever, abdominal pain and diahorrea.

    Two of them consulted private doctors. One of the patients, a 36-year-old man, was admitted to Tseung Kwan O hospital on April 6 and he is now in stable condition. His stool specimen grew Shigella sonnie.

    Further investigation is proceeding.

    A spokesman for CHP said bacillary dysentery is an intestinal infection caused by Shigella bacteria which can be found in the human gut. The illness is characterised by sudden onset of fever, diarrhoea with abdominal cramps and nausea or vomiting. The stool may contain blood and mucus. The incubation period usually lasts for one to three days, but can be up to seven days.

    The disease is transmitted directly by faecal material of a patient/carrier or indirectly through contaminated food and water. Infection may occur after consuming a small number of the germs. Therefore the chances of the infection spreading among household members or in institutions can be very high. It occurs more commonly among young children.

    The spokesman reminded members of the public to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times to prevent bacillary dysentery:
* Wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after going to the toilet or changing diapers.
* Drinking water should be from the mains and preferably boiled.
* Purchase fresh food from reliable sources. Do not patronise illegal hawkers.
* Avoid high-risk food like shellfish, raw food or semi-cooked food.

Ends/Friday, April 11, 2008
Issued at HKT 22:39


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