With Songkran celebrations having already started around the country and people feasting with families and loved ones, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) has warned against eating pork that isn’t properly cooked.
The DDC says the meat should only be bought from shops that meet safety standards, otherwise people could fall prey to Streptococcus suis infection, which could lead to deafness and even death.
In the first three months of 2019, a total of 50 people (10 of whom later died) were confirmed to have fallen ill with the infection, said DDC chief Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai.
In the latest scare, 19 military privates in Uttaradit were yesterday placed under medical surveillance at Fort Pichai Dap Hak Hospital amid fears some might have been affected too.
The newly drafted soldiers developed fevers, headaches and vomiting after eating half-cooked pork in “Moo Joom” Isaan-style sweet chilli dipping pots to celebrate the completion of their training.
Deputy provincial governor Pipat Prachankhet and Maj-General Chaidech Surawadi, commander of the 35th Military Circle in Uttaradit, yesterday led officials on a hospital visit to the sick soldiers and so they could be informed of the latest updates on the disease investigation.
Hospital director Colonel Samai Khampan said four soldiers had been confirmed to be suffering from the Streptococcus suis infection. One of them was in critical condition and had therefore been transferred to the better-equipped Phra Mongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok. A further 15 were still under observation and would remain so for two more weeks, Samai added.
The hospital director also noted that the soldiers had eaten improperly cooked pork in Thong Saen Khan district, the same area which had last year witnessed four deaths by Streptococcus suis infection. A medical expert team had been dispatched to visit and search for the origin of the disease and then to inform the public about how to best protect themselves, he added.
The Uttaradit Public Health Office had also submitted a sample of the suspect pork for a lab test and was now waiting for the result, he added.
DDC chief Suwannachai noted that Songkran would see people eating pork meals that could put them at risk of contracting Streptococcus suis. Such meals included spicy minced pork, spicy blood pork soup and badly cooked grilled pork, he said, citing a report last year of 338 Streptococcus suis patients (29 of whom later died) with a peak in April, when five deaths were reported.
He said that the 338 patients comprised 106 people over 65, 89 aged between 55 and 64, and 85 aged between 45-54.
Suwannachai explained that the Streptococcus suis bacterial infection could be contracted in two ways.
Firstly, a person is at risk if they have an open wound when exposed to the infected pork or if they come into contact with the infected fluid via open mucous membranes.
Secondly, a person can become infected by eating improperly cooked pork containing the bacteria.
Symptoms will show within 3-5 days in the form of a high fever, severe headache, dizziness to the point of losing your balance, vomiting, having a stiff neck, diarrhoea, and muscle pain, he said.
He urged anyone suffering such symptoms to seek medical attention immediately so they can be treated in quick time and reduce their chance of becoming permanently deaf or even dying.
(Source: – The Nation)