Concern in China about Streptococcus suis

In Sichuan, China, Streptococcus suis has infected 198 people and killed 36 (numbers being updated frequently). This is a dramatic increase from the 17 killed and 41 more infected that Nature reported on July 25.

Streptococcus suis is common in pigs, but rare in humans, so the outbreak has scientists worried about whether the bacteria has mutated. Symptoms in humans include flu-like symptoms, deafness, bruises, high fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, coma. Most of those who have been infected are farmers who butchered infected pigs or sheep.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Chinese officials say they have a good handle on the disease. China public health officials are sending and making vaccines to send to the area, and are distributing notices to farmers who may be affected. They have also set up roadside quarantine stations to stop dead pigs from reaching markets.

Scientists and public health officials are speculating about whether the outbreak has occurred via human to human transmission. Experts worry that because of the rapid transmission as well as reported human to human cases more may be involved than S.suis.

In a related article about Avian Flu in China last month Acronym Required mentioned WHO reports that the H5N1 strain of the virus (not the S. suis bacterium) was capable of being transmitted via pigs, which would potentially lead to a species jump to humans.

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