Cases related to GBS bacteria infections fall after curb on raw fish sales: MOH

A raw fish dish from a hawker stall.
A raw fish dish from a hawker stall. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - There has been a fall in the number of cases related to the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria since the middle of July, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

MOH has been notified of an average of three cases a week in the last three weeks, a drop from an average of 20 cases a week at the start of 2015. It received reports of a total of 238 cases from public hospitals from Jan 1 to June 30.

This came after licensed shops and foodstalls were advised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to stop selling raw fish dishes using the Asian Bighead Carp - also known as the Song fish - and Toman Snakehead fish on July 24, MOH said in its Aug 23 statement.


Joint investigations by the MOH, NEA and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are ongoing, with the AVA having investigated along the entire food supply chain of both fishes.

Tests conducted so far, MOH added, have not detected the same strain of GBS that has been detected in humans.

It also urged vulnerable groups of people, such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly or people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes to avoid raw food.

GBS is a common bacterium found in the human gut and urinary tract of about 15 per cent to 30 per cent of adults without causing disease. However, GBS may occasionally cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain.

Last Saturday, 50-year-old technician Tan Whee Boon had both his hands amputated at the wrist. He had suffered a bout of food poisoning last month which led to medical conditions that required all four limbs to be amputated.

Doctors said Mr Tan's condition could have been caused by any strain of bacteria, with one of them being GBS.

He had fallen ill three days after eating a raw fish dish, or yusheng.