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Hong Kong: Three cases of invasive pneumococcal infection investigated (Dec. 09 2010, edited)

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  • Hong Kong: Three cases of invasive pneumococcal infection investigated (Dec. 09 2010, edited)

    Hong Kong: Three cases of invasive pneumococcal infection investigated (Dec. 09 2010, edited)

    [Source: Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong PRC SAR, View Original Article.]

    The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 9) investigating three cases of invasive pneumococcal infection reported from Queen Mary Hospital, spanning a period of one month.

    This infection is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.

    The patients are three children including a 33-month-old girl, 16-month-old boy and a 17-month-old boy.

    They developed symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty in breathing on November 4, 21 and 30 respectively and had been admitted to Queen Mary Hospital for treatment.

    The 33-month-old girl has recovered and was discharged on December 3.

    She attends a nursery in Causeway Bay and there has been no abnormal increase in respiratory infections recently among students attending this nursery.

    The other two children were not attending school before onset of symptoms.

    They are currently in intensive care unit for further management.

    The conditions of the 16-month-old and 17-month-old boys are listed as serious and critical respectively.

    All their family members are currently asymptomatic.

    Laboratory tests conducted by the University of Hong Kong showed that all three cases are caused by serotype 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae.

    Further laboratory tests including typing studies will be carried out.

    Serotype 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of over 90 serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae that cause invasive pneumoccocal infection in Hong Kong.

    It was not an uncommon serotype circulating in the community.

    According to laboratory surveillance on invasive pneumococcal diseases, serotype 3 accounted for around 22% of all isolates in 2009-2010.

    The bacteria from these cases were tested to be sensitive to antibiotics such as penicillin, erythromycin, cefotaxime and vancomycin.

    CHP's investigation continues.

    A spokesman for the CHP said that the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is commonly found in the nose and throat of healthy people, particularly in children. They mainly spread from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or direct close contact. They can also spread via contact with materials soiled with sputum or nasal discharges of the infected.

    To prevent pneumococcal infection, members of the public are advised to:
    • keep hands clean and wash them properly. Alcohol-based handrub is also effective when hands are not visibly soiled;
    • wash hands with liquid soap promptly when they are soiled by nasal discharges or sputum, e.g. after sneezing or coughing;
    • cover nose and mouth with tissue paper while sneezing or coughing;
    • always wrap nasal and mouth discharges with tissue paper. Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin;
    • wear mask when there are symptoms of respiratory tract infection;
    • not to share utensils and washing them thoroughly after use;
    • maintain good ventilation in indoor areas; and
    • avoid attending crowded and poorly ventilated public places if feeling unwell.

    Members of the public can visit the CHP's website,, for general information about the infection.