Streptococcus suis will be added to the infectious disease list in the Quarantine & Prevention of Diseases Ordinance.
Secretary for Hong Kong's Health, Welfare & Food Dr York Chow said today the move will enable the Government to strengthen surveillance, and aid early detection and implementation of health control measures.
The Prevention of the Spread of Infectious Diseases Regulations requires medical practitioners to notify the Director of Health if they have reason to suspect the existence of any infectious diseases specified in the ordinance.
Dr Chow said measures have been stepped up since the Sichuan outbreak to ensure food and health safety. However, as few Streptococcus suis cases have been reported in the past, and the fact the bacteria can be killed though thorough cooking, the secretary said the chance of having an outbreak in Hong Kong is slim.
Dr Chow said pig farm inspection has been strengthened and farmers urged to dispose of carcasses properly. The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department has imposed additional requirements on pig farm licences and will revoke them if farmers do not comply.
Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan said three local experts have met 30 patients in Sichuan to better understand their background and clinical history. They noted patients mainly contracted the disease through contact with infected pigs, and there is no co-infection among patients. If patients seek early treatment, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.
The Ministry of Health said as of today 198 people have been affected, including 38 laboratory-confirmed cases. Among the patients, 36 died and 18 were discharged. In Hong Kong there has been 11 infections reported since May last year.
Advisory Council on Food & Environmental Hygiene Chairman Professor Yuen Kwok-yung said cooking pork thoroughly and covering wounds properly will help ward off the disease. People should also avoid contact with pigs.