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Food Safety Focus (120th Issue, July 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

Brucellosis and Lamb Products

In mid-May, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health recorded a case of brucellosis. The patient had prepared and consumed soup made with lamb organ and meat during a stay in the Mainland earlier, and developed on and off abdominal pain and fever subsequently.

Brucellosis is a bacterial infection of the genus Brucella transmitted from animals (e.g. sheep, cattle, dogs and pigs) to humans. The usual incubation period is 5 – 60 days, but can be as long as several months. The symptoms of brucellosis include fever, headache, back pain, joint pain, physical weakness, etc. Severe infections may affect the brain, the heart and other organs.

Sporadic brucellosis cases related to consumption of unpasteurised dairy products, raw or undercooked meats and internal organs had been reported in humans in regions where the disease was recorded. Occasionally, infection through breaks in the skin may also occur during handling of infected meat.

To prevent brucellosis infection, the public are urged to 1) avoid consuming unpasteurised dairy products, undercooked meats and internal organs; and 2) cover wounds when preparing food.