Streptococcus Suis Claims Dozens of Lives in Thailand

People get infected with Streptococcus suis by eating raw or undercooked pork.
People get infected with Streptococcus suis by eating raw or undercooked pork. (Bulat Khamitov/Pexels)

Eating raw or undercooked meat has its consequences because of Streptococcus suis.

The Culprit – Streptococcus suis

In Thailand, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) reported 24 deaths from January to November of this year. The mortality came from 500 Streptococcus suis cases from several different provinces.

Streptococcus suis is a strain of bacteria, most frequently seen causing infections in pigs but occasionally can affect humans as well. In pig farming industries it poses a great threat, leading to decreased productivity and increased mortality. Although human infections tend to be rare, it’s serious in severity.

According to patients, they ate raw meat, while some consumed undercooked meals with pig’s blood. Officials emphasised an inclination to social media that involved the consumption of raw food and drinking alcohol.

In June, Thailand conducted an International Symposium on Emerging and Re-emerging Pig Diseases (ISERPD) and an International Workshop on Streptococcus suis. Specialists talked about the epidemiology. It includes the diagnosis of the infection, disease control, prevention, and infection in humans.

Statistics of the Deadly Disease

In 2021, the Department of Disease Control documented 266 cases and a dozen deaths because of the infection from January to June. Those in the elderly and working age group aged 55 or over were the most affected. It includes workers and farmers who work in the slaughterhouse.

Generally, the disease is asymptomatic in pigs. Humans can get inflicted by eating contaminated raw or undercooked pork and fresh blood. They can also get infected with direct contact with diseased pigs or pork products.

The incubation or maturation period ranges from a few hours to five days. The infection cycle typically begins with the bacteria being naturally present in sows, resulting in piglet transmission during the lactation phase.

An infected person could experience high fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, serious headaches and dizziness, light intolerance, hearing loss, and decreased level of consciousness.

The DDC recommends all consumers refrain from eating raw or undercooked pork and fresh blood. Pork must be cooked thoroughly, reaching up to 70°C. They advised people to purchase fresh pork only and wash their hands regularly before cooking and eating.