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Food Safety Focus (184th Issue, November 2021) – Article 3

Raw Freshwater Fish and Group B Streptococcus Infection

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) recently reported an upsurge in local cases of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection when compared with previous years.

GBS are bacteria found in many animals, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and in the guts of 20 to 40% of healthy adults as commensals. In most cases of GBS infection, the way of transmission is unclear, but mother-to-child transmission and improper handling and consumption of contaminated raw freshwater fish like big head, snakehead, etc. had been reported. GBS infection can cause severe invasive diseases including sepsis, septic arthritis, meningitis and infective endocarditis in vulnerable populations.

Freshwater fish intended for raw consumption had been prohibited for sale in Hong Kong for more than 30 years. For the sake of food safety, the public is advised to maintain good hand hygiene, dress hand wounds properly before handling raw food, keep raw and cooked foods separate and cook food thoroughly before consumption.