The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (August 14) investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection, and hence reminded the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene against intestinal infections.
The case involves an 8-year-old girl with good past health, who has presented with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever since July 23. She was admitted to a private hospital on July 24 and was discharged on July 26. The patient has been in a stable condition all along.
Her stool specimen grew STEC upon laboratory testing.
The CHP's initial enquiries revealed that the patient had no travel history during the incubation period. Investigations are ongoing.
"Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless. Some strains, however, such as STEC, can produce powerful toxins and cause severe food-borne disease. The most recognised serogroup of STEC is E. coli O157:H7," a spokesman for the CHP explained.
Preventive measures for STEC infection are similar to those recommended for other food-borne diseases. The public is advised to observe good personal and food hygiene:
- Adopt the 5 Keys to Food Safety in handling food, i.e. Choose (choose safe raw materials), Clean (keep hands and utensils clean), Separate (separate raw and cooked food), Cook (cook thoroughly) and Safe Temperature (keep food at a safe temperature) to prevent food-borne diseases;
- Wash hands properly with liquid soap and water before handling food, after handling raw meat or poultry and before eating, and after going to the toilet or changing diapers;
- Cook food and boil water thoroughly before consumption. When cooking or reheating, the core temperature of the food should reach at least 75 degrees Celsius;
- Avoid consumption of unpasteurised milk or undercooked food; and
- Consult your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of STEC infection, particularly bloody diarrhoea.
The public may visit the CHP's STEC page for more information.
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