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Press Release

Two fatal cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection investigated

20 Jun 2012

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating two fatal cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection, with one of them causing necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease).

The case of necrotising fasciitis caused by Vibrio vulnificus affected a 48-year-old man who lived in Shenzhen with underlying medical conditions. He presented with fever, pain and swelling in both legs since June 16. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Pok Oi Hospital on June 17 and was transferred to Tuen Mun Hospital on the same day.

His clinical diagnosis is necrotising fasciitis and bilateral above knee amputations were performed. His condition continued to deteriorate and he passed away yesterday (June 19).

The patient’s blood culture grew Vibrio vulnificus and his tissue and wound swabs also detected Vibrio vulnificus.

His home contact was asymptomatic. Investigation continues.

The case of Vibrio vulnificus infection involved a 61-year-old man, who lived in Yuen Long, with chronic illness. He developed fever since June 16 and loss of consciousness on June 17. He was admitted to Pok Oi Hospital on the same day. His condition deteriorated and he passed away on June 18.

His blood specimen taking during his admission yielded Vibrio vulnificus.

CHP's investigation revealed that the patient had consumed raw mantis shrimp. His home contact was asymptomatic. Investigation continues.

The two cases have been referred to the Coroner for further investigation.

People are reminded to adopt the following measures to prevent necrotizing fasciitis and Vibrio vulnificus infection:

* Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to seawater or salty water;
* Wounds should be thoroughly cleaned and properly covered;
* Wear thick rubber gloves when handling raw shellfish;
* Cook seafood, especially shellfish (e.g. oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly; and
* For shellfish, boil until the shells open and avoid cross-contamination of ready-to-eat food with raw seafood.

Patients should seek medical advice promptly if they develop symptoms and signs of infection such as increasing redness, pain and swelling.

20 June 2012