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Public reminded to prevent E. coli O157:H7 infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 26) reminded people to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent intestinal infection caused by E. Coli O157:H7 bacteria.

     The appeal came after the confirmation by laboratory test of a case involving a three-year-old girl living in North Point. This is the first case of E. Coli O157:H7 infection reported to the CHP this year.

     The CHP's investigation revealed that the child developed abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and chills on March 15 and sought medical treatment the next day. No hospitalisation was required. The girl is now in stable condition.

     Her stool specimen grew toxin-producing E. Coli O157:H7.

     The child had no travel history during the incubation period. Her household contacts did not show any symptoms of intestinal infection.

     The CHP's investigation continues.

     A CHP spokesman said that in general, E. coli O157:H7 could be contracted through consumption of undercooked contaminated food (especially minced beef and hamburgers, etc.) or contaminated water, or transmitted from person to person through the faecal-oral route.

     "However, the bacteria can be killed at a cooking temperature of around 75 degrees Celsius for two to three minutes, he said.

     "People are advised to cook meat thoroughly. The core temperature of food should reach 75 degrees Celsius for at least two to three minutes, until the cooked meat is brown throughout and the juices run clear.

     "People should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene to avoid person-to-person transmission of the bacteria through the faecal-oral route. They are advised to wash hands thoroughly particularly before handling food, before eating, after visiting the toilet and after changing diapers for their babies," the spokesman said.

     There were two cases of E. coli 0157:H7 infection in 2008 and another two cases in 2009.

     People may visit the CHP website  to obtain more information on the disease.

Ends/Friday, March 26, 2010
Issued at HKT 21:21


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