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CHP announces one new confirmed melioidosis infection case over past week
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 29) said that one new confirmed melioidosis infection case had been recorded in the past week (December 22 to 28).

     The case involves a 94-year-old female with underlying illnesses who lives in Sai Wan Ho. She started to feel unwell since December 17. She was sent to the Accident and Emergency Department of Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on December 20 due to decreased blood oxygen saturation and was admitted on the same day. She is in stable condition. Her clinical sample was confirmed positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei upon testing.
     The CHP is investigating the infection source of the case. Epidemiological investigations are ongoing. A total of 17 melioidosis infection cases have been recorded in Hong Kong this year. In 2022, 46 melioidosis infection cases were recorded.

     A spokesman for the CHP reiterated that person-to-person transmission and animal-to-human transmission are rare, but melioidosis bacteria can survive in the local environment. Melioidosis is an endemic disease in Hong Kong 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 soil and muddy water may become exposed to the ground after typhoons or storms, and the bacteria could spread more easily with strong winds or storms. As such, the number of melioidosis cases may increase.

     The CHP reminded members of the public that melioidosis can be spread by contaminated soil and water during and after typhoons and storms. Where practicable, they should stay indoor during typhoons and storms, avoid travelling to areas with potential flooding, and do not wade or have contact with muddy water and soil. In addition, high-risk individuals should avoid paths near stormwater drains where aerosols may be generated from contaminated water.

     Members of the public should also 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. using gloves and wearing boots. High-risk individuals may consider to wear a surgical mask in addition;
  • 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. Risk of infection can be minimised by avoiding exposure to water sources (such as rivers, ponds or lakes) that might be contaminated.

     The CHP appealed to members of the public to seek medical advice if they develop symptoms, in particular people with diabetes or other immunocompromised conditions, in order to receive appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment. For more information on melioidosis, please visit the website of the CHP at www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/101110.html.
Ends/Friday, December 29, 2023
Issued at HKT 17:15
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