Health alert after pig farmers die

CHINA - The Centre for Health Protection is investigating the death of two local pig farmers who succumbed to a pneumonic illness in the past six months, the HK Govt. reports.
calendar icon 28 December 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Laboratory tests have not identified a specific bacteria or virus causing the pneumonia. Further investigations are needed to ascertain the nature of a possible infectious illness and any relation it may have with pigs.

A 44-year-old Sheung Shui man came down with fever and cough on December 7. He was admitted to North District Hospital on December 11 and died of a pneumonia-like illness on December 13.

He visited Dongguan about 20 days before the onset of symptoms, but an association between this travel and his illness cannot be established yet.

Another case involved a 62-year-old Tsuen Wan man who developed a similar illness and was admitted to Yan Chai Hospital at the end of May. He died on June 4. The centre is following up on his travel history.

Five family members of the 44-year-old patient and a worker at his farm have no symptoms. Family members of the 62-year-old patient will be tested.

The centre has also followed up on a pig farmer acquaintance of the 44-year-old whom he had visited in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in early December. This acquaintance had a pre-existing lung disease and kidney problems and had been hospitalised since the end of October. His clinical presentation was different from the victims.

Hotline set up

The centre's Consultant Dr Thomas Tsang appealed to pig farmers who have suffered from pneumonia-like illnesses and required hospitalisation since June 1 to call 2125 1133 for follow-up advice.

The centre has been liaising with Mainland health authorities, and the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department has reminded local farmers to report any pig disease outbreak and abnormal pig death.

So far there has been no unusual increase in the mortality rate of pigs in local farms. There have also been no unusual pig diseases found.

The department will monitor the situation.

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