10 victims of bacterial outbreak say they had eaten raw seafood

Authorities here are investigating a message that went viral on Monday that claimed that there is a bacteria outbreak from eating contaminated raw fish.
Authorities here are investigating a message that went viral on Monday that claimed that there is a bacteria outbreak from eating contaminated raw fish.PHOTO: EYEB

SINGAPORE - Authorities here are investigating a message that went viral on Monday that claimed that there is a bacteria outbreak from eating contaminated raw fish.

The ministry said that it has been alerted by hospital doctors to an increase in cases of GBS infection.

One of the larger hospitals here has treated 76 cases of GBS this year, higher than the average of about 53 each year in the past five years, said an MOH spokesman.

"10 of these cases reported consumption of raw fish. Investigations are on-going as to the reasons for the increase in cases," said the spokesman.

It added that it is jointly investigating the claim about the outbreak of Group B streptococcus (GBS) with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

"Vulnerable groups of people, especially young children, pregnant women or the elderly should exercise caution by avoiding raw ready-to-eat food (e.g. raw oysters, sashimi, etc)."

MOH said in that the strain is a "common bacterium that colonises the human gut and urinary tract" and does not usually cause disease in healthy individuals.

"There has not previously been any proven link between eating fish, raw or otherwise, and GBS disease. However, in adults, GBS may occasionally cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brains. The risk factors for GBS infection include underlying chronic or co-morbid conditions."

The claim was circulated widely on Monday via Whatsapp message on mobile phones and also the social media.