Thailand issues Streptococcus suis warning as 2 dozen deaths reported

Thailand issues Streptococcus suis warning as 2 dozen deaths reported

Health officials in Thailand are urging people not to eat raw or undercooked pork after hundreds of cases and two dozen deaths were recorded.

From January to November 2023, there were 500 Streptococcus suis cases with 24 deaths in several different provinces, according to the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

Patients reported eating raw or undercooked pork, meals with pig’s blood as well as working with potentially infected animals.

Officials highlighted a trend on social media that involved eating raw food and drinking alcohol but said this puts people at risk of being infected.

In June 2023, Thailand held an International Symposium on Emerging and Re-emerging Pig Diseases (ISERPD) and an International Workshop on Streptococcus suis. Experts discussed the epidemiology and diagnosis of Streptococcus suis, disease control and prevention, and infection in humans.

Streptococcus suis in Thailand
In 2021, the Department of Disease Control reported 266 cases and 12 deaths due to Streptococcus suis infection between January and June.

Most cases were in the elderly and working age groups, so those aged 55 to 64 or age 65 and over. Occupations with the highest risk were farm and slaughterhouse workers and farmers.

Streptococcus suis infection is usually asymptomatic in pigs. Humans can be infected by consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked pork and fresh blood or direct contact with infected pigs or pork products.

The incubation period ranges from a few hours up to five days. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, neck stiffness, intolerance of light, decreased level of consciousness, and hearing loss.

The DDC advises all consumers to avoid consumption of raw or undercooked pork and fresh blood. Pork should be cooked to reach an internal temperature of 70 degrees C (158 degrees F). People are advised to only buy fresh pork meat from reliable sources, regularly wash hands, use separate utensils for cooked and raw meat and wear gloves when handling pork.