Public Urged To Guard Against Bacillary Dysentery

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The Centre for Health Protection of the Hong Kong Department of Health urged members of the public to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene following confirmation of an outbreak of bacillary dysentery, an intestinal infection caused by bacteria.

The case involved 16 persons, all male, aged between 14 and 37 in Pik Uk Correctional Institution. They developed gastrointestinal symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

All of them consulted doctors of the Correctional Institution. No hospitalization is required.

Laboratory result available today confirmed that 15 faecal specimens were tested positive for Shigella sonnei, the bacteria causing bacillary dysentery, a CHP spokesman said.

The institution has been advised to step up infection control measures and is put under medical surveillance.

Bacillary dysentery is an intestinal infection caused by Shigella bacteria which can be found in human gut. The illness is characterized by sudden onset of fever, diarrhoea with abdominal cramps and nausea or vomiting. The stool may contain blood and mucus. The incubation period usually lasts for one to three days, but can be up to seven days.

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Bacillary dysentery is transmitted directly by faecal material of a patient/carrier or indirectly through contaminated food and water. Infection may occur after consuming a small number of the germs. Therefore, chance of spread among household members or in institutions can be very high. It occurs more commonly amongst young children.

DH received 67 bacillary dysentery cases in 2007, 140 cases in 2006, and 129 cases in 2005.

The spokesman reminded members of the public to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times to prevent bacillary dysentery:

* Wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after toilet or changing diapers.

* Drinking water should be from the mains and preferably boiled.

* Purchase fresh food from reliable sources. Do not patronize illegal hawkers.

* Avoid high-risk food like shellfish, raw food or semi-cooked food.

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