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CHP investigates three additional confirmed melioidosis infection cases and plans to include melioidosis as statutorily notifiable infectious disease
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (October 25) said that three new confirmed melioidosis infection cases had been confirmed by the DH's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.
     The first case involves an 88-year-old male with hypertension and recovered renal tumor. He lives in North Point. He attended the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on October 4 due to fever and was admitted on the same day. His clinical diagnosis was pancytopenia and his current condition is stable. The second case involves a 69-year-old male with ischaemic heart disease and chronic lung disease. During the incubation period, he lives in Tseung Kwan O most of the time and in Chai Wan occasionally. He started to develop fever on October 4. He attended the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on October 6 and was admitted on the same day. His clinical diagnosis was melioidosis infection and his current condition is stable. 
     According to the epidemiological investigation of the CHP, the above-mentioned 88-year-old and 69-year-old male patients had not visited Sham Shui Po or any places in common prior to their onset, nor have they drunk unboiled water. Infection from food or products can be ruled out at this stage. Epidemiological investigation of the cases is ongoing. 
     The third case involves an 89-year-old male with multiple underlying diseases including diabetes, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, transient ischaemic stroke and colon cancer. The patient lives in a private building in Sham Shui Po. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Caritas Medical Centre on October 8 due to shortness of breath, wheezing and leg edema and was admitted on the same day. His clinical diagnosis was melioidosis infection and his current condition is stable. 
     As of today, a total of 34 melioidosis cases were recorded this year in Hong Kong. Between August and October this year, 20 cases residing in 19 buildings in Sham Shui Po were recorded (see Note).
     The CHP, together with experts from the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong and representatives from Government department, conducted site investigations and collected 15 environmental samples at Shek Kip Mei Service Reservoir and Butterfly Valley Fresh Water Primary Service Reservoir this morning for investigations. After being briefed by representatives from the Water Supplies Department (WSD), the expert believed that the drinking water in Hong Kong is safe and met the guidelines of the World Health Organization. As chlorine can effectively kill the common bacteria in drinking water, the experts suggested that the WSD can increase the chlorine content in drinking water to strengthen disinfection effect and can consider further disinfecting the drinking water using ultraviolet light as a prudent measure.
     In view of the increased number of cases detected this year compared to previous annual figures, the Government will consider to revise the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599) to include melioidosis as a statutorily notifiable disease. The CHP will continue to remind doctors to remain vigilant and to promptly refer patients (especially those with chronic illnesses) to hospitals for treatment as well as report to the CHP according to the test result for the bacteria.
     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.
     For more information on melioidosis, please visit the website of the CHP at www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/101110.html.
Note: The 19 buildings include five buildings in Pak Tin Estate, three buildings in Shek Kip Mei Estate, three buildings in Lei Cheng Uk Estate, as well as eight other different buildings in Sham Shui Po district.
Ends/Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Issued at HKT 20:09
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