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CHP announces no new confirmed melioidosis infection cases today and follows up on serological testing results
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 29) said that no new confirmed melioidosis infection cases had been recorded as at 5pm today. The CHP advised members of the public to maintain personal and environmental hygiene at all times and seek medical advice promptly if they develop symptoms.
     In view of the earlier Burkholderia pseudomallei PCR positive test results of soil samples collected at the redevelopment construction site of Pak Tin Estate, the CHP followed up on the health condition of 188 workers of the construction site and all were found to be asymptomatic. To further verify if they had previous infection, the CHP, together with the University of Hong Kong (HKU), conducted serological testing for melioidosis on 26 workers of the construction site who have chronic illness. Results showed that 10 of the workers were found to have antibodies against melioidosis bacteria, involving eight males and two females aged 39 to 66. They have been working at the construction site from two months to several years. None of them reported severe infection within the past one year and none of them has symptoms recently. As they have antibodies, the CHP believed that they may have acquired asymptomatic infection in the past due to exposure to soil or contaminated water carrying Burkholderia pseudomallei. Overseas studies have found a high possibility of infection and high proportion of antibodies against the bacteria in certain high risk groups such as farmers or construction site workers who have higher exposure to soil and contaminated water. For prudent sake, the CHP will arrange these 10 workers to have further clinical assessment in public hospitals.
     The other eight workers tested negative for antibodies whereas the remaining eight had equivocal results and require further testing two weeks later. As announced earlier, the CHP and HKU carried out PCR tests on the environmental samples collected at the construction site, among which four samples tested positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei (but with very low bacterial load) while 20 tested negative. The CHP has instructed the construction site for disinfection and advised the workers there to wear mask properly, observe hand hygiene and avoid direct contact with soil and contaminated water with wound. The CHP has also advised the workers of that construction site especially those with underlying illness to observe symptoms at all times. If symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and inflamed wound develop, they should seek medical attention promptly.
     A spokesman for the CHP reiterated that person-to-person transmission and animal-to-human transmission are rare. 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.
Ends/Saturday, October 29, 2022
Issued at HKT 21:36
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