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MOH investigating increase in Group B streptococcus infections

SINGAPORE — In light of a message making its rounds online claiming an outbreak of Group B streptococcus (GBS) infections due to the consumption of contaminated raw fish, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an increase in GBS cases, and said investigations on the cause are being carried out.

MOH investigating increase in Group B streptococcus infections

A message circulating claiming that there is an outbreak of Group B streptococcus (GBS) here due to eating contaminated raw fish. Photo: MOH/Facebook

SINGAPORE — In light of a message making its rounds online claiming an outbreak of Group B streptococcus (GBS) infections due to the consumption of contaminated raw fish, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an increase in GBS cases, and said investigations on the cause are being carried out.

In a Facebook post earlier this evening (July 13), the MOH said it is jointly investigating with the National Environment Agency and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore over the cause of the apparent outbreak.

An MOH spokesperson said in response to media queries that “there has not previously been any proven link between eating fish, raw or otherwise, and GBS disease”.

Nonetheless, its hospital doctors have alerted of an increase in the number of cases of GBS infections.

“While one of our larger hospitals saw an average of about 53 (range 31 to 73) cases of GBS infection each year in the past five years, they have treated about 76 cases so far this year. Ten of these cases reported recent consumption of raw fish. Investigations are on-going as to the reason(s) for the increase in cases,” the spokesperson added.

The MOH said GBS is a common bacterium that colonises the human gut and urinary tract and usually does not cause disease in healthy individuals. However, in adults, GBS may occasionally cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brains.

“Vulnerable groups of people, especially young children, pregnant women or the elderly, should exercise caution by avoiding raw ready-to-eat food,” the ministry spokesperson said.

TODAY understands from the messages sent — on mobile phones and on social media — that those who had suffered from the infection had eaten raw fish in food centres and restaurants at various parts of the island.

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