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Press Release

Fatal necrotising fasciitis case under investigation

9 August 2012

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a fatal case of necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) involving a 56-year-old man with underlying illness.

The patient, who lived in Yuen Long, developed pain over left ankle since August 5. He was admitted to North District Hospital on the same day and was diagnosed as having necrotising fasciitis. Despite amputation was performed, the patient's condition deteriorated and he passed away on the next day.

The patient’s left leg wound tissue grew Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria causing necrotising fasciitis.

The patient had travelled to the Mainland from August 1 to 5. He did not have known history of injury. His home contacts are asymptomatic.

Investigation is on-going.

A CHP spokesman said necrotising fasciitis was a serious bacterial infection of the soft tissue and fascia. It could destroy tissue and cause death within 12 to 24 hours after infection.

People are reminded to adopt the following preventive measures:

* Avoid foot/leg contact with dirty water when visiting a wet market;
* Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to seawater or salty water;
* Wounds should be thoroughly cleaned and properly covered; and
* Wear thick rubber gloves when handling raw shellfish.

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

09 August 2012