November 9, 2023


Thailand issues warning against consuming raw pork after surge in Streptococcus suis cases




Health officials in Thailand are cautioning the public against the consumption of raw or undercooked pork following a surge in Streptococcus suis cases, with recorded instances reaching 500 and 24 reported deaths from January to November 2023 across various provinces, according to the Department of Disease Control (DDC), Food Safety News reported.


Patients linked their illnesses to the consumption of raw or undercooked pork, meals containing swine's blood, and contact with potentially infected animals, leading officials to highlight the risks associated with such practices. Notably, a concerning trend on social media promoting the consumption of raw food and alcohol was identified, posing an increased risk of infection.


In June 2023, Thailand hosted the International Symposium on Emerging and Re-emerging Pig Diseases (ISERPD) and an International Workshop on Streptococcus suis, focusing on discussions about the epidemiology, diagnosis, disease control, and prevention of Streptococcus suis, particularly its impact on human health.


In 2021, the Department of Disease Control reported 266 cases and 12 deaths related to Streptococcus suis infection between January and June. The elderly and working-age groups, specifically individuals aged 55 to 64 and those aged 65 and over, were most affected. Occupations with the highest risk included farm and slaughterhouse workers as well as farmers.


Streptococcus suis infection is often asymptomatic in swine but can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked pork, fresh blood, or direct contact with infected swine or pork products. The incubation period ranges from a few hours to five days, with symptoms including high fever, severe headache, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck stiffness, intolerance of light, decreased consciousness, and hearing loss.


To mitigate the risk, the DDC advises consumers to abstain from consuming raw or undercooked pork and fresh blood. Pork should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 70 degrees C (158 degrees F). Additional precautions include purchasing fresh pork meat from reliable sources, regular handwashing, using separate utensils for cooked and raw meat, and wearing gloves when handling pork.


-      Food Safety News