CHP investigates case of suspected botulism

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (July 20) investigating a suspected case of botulism, and again stressed to the public that such injections should only be prescribed and performed by registered doctors.

     The female patient, aged 42 with good past health, has developed swallowing difficulties and upper limb weakness since July 11. She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital yesterday (July 19) and was admitted on the same day. She was found to have upper limb muscle weakness on admission. Her clinical diagnosis was suspected iatrogenic botulism and she is currently in stable condition.

     According to information provided by the patient, she had received injection to her bilateral calves for slimming purposes in a beauty premises in Shenzhen, Guangdong, on July 8 but she was uncertain whether the injection received was botulinum toxin.

     "We have no evidence at this stage that patients of the eight recent cases so far had received injections in the same premises. Epidemiological investigations are ongoing," the spokesman added.

     "We have been maintaining close liaison with Mainland health and drug regulatory counterparts to identify if there are similar cases. We acknowledged that the health authority of the Mainland had taken follow-up measures," the spokesman said.

     Botulism is a statutorily notifiable infectious disease. Clinicians must make reports to the CHP in cases of patients with symptoms or histories of suspected botulism.

     "Due to the weakening of associated muscles, patients receiving the injection may have problems with chewing or even swallowing, speaking or breathing. These problems may happen in hours, days or weeks. Botulinum toxin may spread and affect other areas beyond the injection site, resulting in hoarseness, drooping of the eyelids, double vision or blurred vision," the spokesman said.
     The DH urged the public to observe the health advice below before receiving botulinum toxin injections:
  • Injections should only be performed by locally registered doctors;
  • Understand the procedure, potential risks and complications before receiving botulinum toxin injections. Consult a doctor for an informed decision;
  • Do not receive an injection in case of a history of allergy to botulinum toxin, or infection or inflammation on the injection site;
  • Request the full name of the doctor in writing if referred by a beauty service provider for the procedure, as well as the professional qualifications and relevant experience; and
  • If symptoms develop, such as fever or feeling unwell, seek medical attention immediately.

     "Those who must receive injections outside Hong Kong should pay special attention to ensure that practitioners are qualified or registered with relevant jurisdictions. If in doubt, stop using or receiving the injection immediately. Promptly consult qualified healthcare professionals if feeling unwell," the spokesman added.

     The public may visit the following pages for more information: differentiation between medical procedures and beauty services, the Drug Database of the Drug Office, and the CHP's botulism page.

Ends/Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:56