Investigation launched by CHP into Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection involving 32-year-old woman

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3rd April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has initiated an investigation into a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection. As a result, the CHP is urging the public to prioritize personal, food, and environmental hygiene practices to prevent intestinal infections.

The case involves a 32-year-old female with a healthy medical history who experienced symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting on 15th March. Seeking medical attention, she visited the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of North Lantau Hospital (NLTH) on the same day. Fortunately, her condition remained stable, and she did not require hospitalization.

Upon laboratory testing, the patient’s stool specimen revealed the presence of STEC.

According to initial inquiries conducted by the CHP, it was discovered that the patient had traveled to Taiwan during the incubation period. Additionally, her travel companion developed similar symptoms on 15th March, and both individuals visited the AED of NLTH together. The travel companion did not require hospitalisation. Based on the ongoing epidemiological investigation and the latest test results, the CHP has classified the symptomatic travel companion as a probable case and is currently arranging tests for further confirmation. The investigation aims to identify potential sources of infection and any high-risk exposure.

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