Fatal case of invasive pneumococcal infection investigated

     In response to media enquiries, a spokesperson for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health said today (November 19) that the CHP is investigating a fatal case of invasive pneumococcal infection involving a 3-year-old boy. This kind of infection is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.

     The boy, with good past health, presented with fever and cough on November 12. He sought medical consultation from two private hospitals on November 12 and 14 respectively. He was admitted to another private hospital on November 15. As his condition deteriorated, he was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) Paediatric Intensive Care Unit on November 17 and died on the same day.

     The boy's pleural fluid specimens tested positive for serotype 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae upon laboratory testing by both the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP and QMH.

     Preliminary investigation revealed that the boy had been immunised with 7-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and 10-valent PCV booster. He had no recent travel history and his family contacts are currently asymptomatic. No other similar cases have been reported by the kindergarten which he attended. Advice on prevention of respiratory infectious diseases has been given to the management of the kindergarten. The case will be referred to the Coroner's Court for investigation.
     The CHP's investigation is continuing.

     A spokesman for the CHP reminded parents to seek medical consultation immediately if their children develop symptoms like fever and cough, even if their children have been immunised with PCV.

     Serotype 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of over 90 serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae that cause invasive pneumoccocal infection in Hong Kong. It is not an uncommon serotype circulating in the community.
     The spokesman said that the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is commonly found in the nose and throat of healthy people, particularly in children. It mainly spreads from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or direct close contact. It can also spread via contact with materials soiled with sputum or nasal discharges of the infected.
     To prevent pneumococcal infection, members of the public are advised to:
* Keep hands clean and wash them properly; alcohol-based handrub is also effective when hands are not visibly soiled;
* Wash hands with liquid soap promptly when they are soiled by nasal discharges or sputum, e.g. after sneezing or coughing;
* Cover the nose and mouth with tissue paper while sneezing or coughing;
* Always wrap nasal and mouth discharges with tissue paper. Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin;
* Wear a mask when there are symptoms of respiratory tract infection;
* Not share utensils and to wash them thoroughly after use;
* Maintain good ventilation in indoor areas; and
* Avoid attending crowded and poorly ventilated public places if feeling unwell.

     Members of the public can visit the CHP's website, www.chp.gov.hk, for general information about the infection.

Ends/Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:15