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Press Release

Necrotising fasciitis case under investigation

13 August 2012

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a case of necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) involving a 77-year-old man with underlying illness.

The patient lives in Kwun Tong. He presented with right forearm redness, pain and swelling on August 8. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital the next day and was subsequently admitted. Drainage and debridement was performed on August 9. The diagnosis was necrotizing fasciitis.

The patient is now receiving intensive care and his condition is all along stable. Wound swab from his right forearm yielded Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria causing necrotising fasciitis.

The man had no recent travel history. He recalled sustaining puncture injury to his right forearm by a sharp object, suspected to be a prawn, on August 8. Investigation is continuing.

A CHP spokesman said necrotising fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection of the soft tissue and fascia. It can 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 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.

13 August 2012