The Department of Disease Control (DDC) is warning people against consuming raw and undercooked pork after about 500 cases of streptococcus suis, or hearing loss fever, resulted in 24 deaths.
Dr Taweechai Wisanuyothin, director of DDC Regional Office 9 in Nakhon Ratchasima, yesterday said many people were found to have been infected with streptococcus suis after recently eating raw and undercooked pork. Cooks can also be at risk of infection when touching infected pork with an open wound on their hands, he said.
From the beginning of the year to Wednesday, 500 patients have been identified, including 24 fatalities. The highest number of deaths were reportedly found in Nakhon Ratchasima with four, followed by three in Maha Sarakham; two each in Tak, Uttaradit, Uthai Thani and Nakhon Pathom; and one each in Chiang Mai, Nan, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit, Samut Sakhon, Nong Khai, Chaiyaphum and Buri Ram.
Dr Taweechai said when it comes to grilled food, people should have separate utensils for handling cooked and uncooked pork.
A streptococcus suis infection will cause hearing loss and the symptom may be permanent, he said. The bacteria is commonly found in an infected pig's respiratory system and blood, and infections can be transmitted via open wounds and conjunctiva.
Infected humans display symptoms such as fever, shivering, fatigue, nausea, irregular heartbeat, poor sight, low blood pressure, ecchymoses and hearing loss, he said.
He warned that people must refrain from emulating social media influencers who eat raw food while drinking alcohol.
Pork must be cooked at 70 degrees Celsius or higher and be handled with separate utensils, he said, adding people should buy their pork from reliable sources and regularly wash their hands and wear gloves when handling the meat.
For more information, contact the DDC via its "1422" hotline.