18-month-old boy infected with shiga toxin-producing E. coli: Health authorities urge public to prioritise hygiene

Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital

25th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is currently investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection. This development has prompted health officials to issue a reminder to the public about the importance of maintaining good personal, food, and environmental hygiene to prevent intestinal infections.

The affected individual is an 18-month-old boy with a history of good health. He initially experienced symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting on 1st September, followed by the presence of blood in his stool on 6th September. Seeking medical attention, he visited Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital on 7th September and was subsequently admitted on the same day. After his condition stabilized, he was discharged on 10th September.

Laboratory testing of the patient’s stool specimen confirmed the growth of STEC, which is a concerning finding.

Preliminary investigations conducted by the CHP indicate that the patient did not have any travel history during the incubation period. Additionally, information provided by the patient’s family members suggests that he did not consume any high-risk foods, such as raw meat or unpasteurized dairy products, during the incubation period. The CHP is actively conducting further investigations to determine the source of the infection.

A spokesperson for the CHP explained, “Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some strains, such as STEC, can produce potent toxins and cause severe food-borne illnesses. The most well-known serogroup of STEC is E. coli O157:H7.”