Singapore: Traces of Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria found in raw fish samples, Ministry of Health (MOH) says

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NEA advises licensed food stall holders to temporary stop the sales of raw fish dishes using Song fish, also known as Asian Bighead Carp and Toman fish, also known as Snakehead fish, as a precautionary measure. 

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Some samples of raw fish were tested and found to have traces of the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria, the Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said.

This comes after MOH launched an investigation into the link between GBS and raw fish after it saw an increase in GBS cases.

From Jan 1 to Jun 30, authorities received reports of 238 GBS cases from public hospitals. This is up from an average of 150 cases per year in the past four years. More than half the cases were over the age of 55, similar to previous years. Authorities earlier said there is no proven link between eating raw fish and serious GBS disease in healthy humans, but interim analysis of MOH’s investigation on a limited number of identified cases found an association between the consumption of raw fish and GBS infections. More cases will need to be studied for a more definite conclusion, authorities noted.

NEA has advised licensed food stall holders to temporarily stop the sales of raw fish dishes using Song fish, also known as Asian Bighead Carp, and Toman fish, also known as Snakehead fish, as a precautionary measure. Stall holders will also be reminded to adhere to high standards of personal hygiene and adopt proper food handling practices to prevent cross contamination and bacterial growth, the agencies stated.

Earlier, MOH had asked all hospitals to submit their case listings of patients with GBS infections for this year as part of its investigation. Doctors in the private sector were also asked to report new cases of GBS infection to MOH as well, to assist in its probe. Authorities added that GBS is a common bacterium found in the human gut and urinary tract of about 15 to 30 per cent of adults without causing disease. However, it may occasionally cause infection of the skin, joints, heart and brain. GBS can be found in fish, but it does not pose an issue if the fish is well-cooked before consumption, MOH said.

Some GBS patients told Channel NewsAsia  after consuming yusheng, their joints swelled to the point where they required surgery. While investigations are ongoing, vulnerable groups of people – especially young children, pregnant women or the elderly, or people with chronic illness such as diabetes – should exercise caution by avoiding raw ready-to-eat food, authorities said.

Source: Channel NewsAsia.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.