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CHP investigates one additional confirmed melioidosis infection case
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 20) said that one new confirmed melioidosis infection case had been recorded this evening. The CHP will continue to strengthen its surveillance work in view of the melioidosis cases in recent months. Members of the public should maintain personal and environmental hygiene at all times and seek medical advice promptly if they develop symptoms. 

     The additional case involved an 80-year-old female with multiple underlying diseases including chronic kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension. She lived in Sham Shui Po. She developed shortness of breath, cough with sputum and chest pain and attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Caritas Medical Centre on October 11. She was admitted on the same day. Her condition deteriorated and she passed away on October 17 due to acute exacerbation of her underlying diseases. Her sputum specimen cultured positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei by the DH's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch today. According to the epidemiological investigation of the CHP, the cause of death included acute heart and renal failure and acute pulmonary oedema, and was unrelated to melioidosis. Investigation is ongoing. 

     As of today, a total of 30 melioidosis cases were recorded this year in Hong Kong. Nineteen patients have been discharged, four patients are still hospitalised and seven patients passed away, which involved four males and three females aged from 54 to 93 years, including the aforementioned case whose cause of death was unrelated to melioidosis.

     A spokesman for the CHP reiterated that person-to-person transmission and animal-to-human transmission are rare, but may occur through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Melioidosis bacteria can survive in the local environment and melioidosis cases have been recorded in Hong Kong each year. According to literature, infection cases are more common after typhoons or storms. The bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei of melioidosis in the soil and muddy water may become exposed to the ground after typhoons or storms, and the bacteria would spread easier with strong wind or storms. As such, the number of melioidosis cases may increase.

     Members of the public should take the following preventive measures against infection:
  • Avoid contact with contaminated soil;
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing or footwear when participating in activities with possible contact with soil or water, e.g. use gloves and wear boots;
  • Wash or shower after exposure to contaminated water or soil;
  • Always clean any wounds as soon as possible and cover any cuts or grazes with waterproof dressings;
  • Wash hands with liquid soap and water after handling soil or gardening;
  • Observe food hygiene and avoid drinking raw water; and
  • Travellers can contract the disease through outdoor water sports. The risk of infection can be minimised by avoiding exposure to water sources (such as rivers, ponds or lakes) that might be contaminated.

     ​For more information on melioidosis, please visit the website of the CHP at www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/101110.html.
Ends/Thursday, October 20, 2022
Issued at HKT 19:44
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