Cook in S China’s Guangdong becomes hearing-impaired after cutting raw pork with a wound on his hand
Published: Dec 07, 2020 06:57 PM

Vendors sell pork at a market in Nanning, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Jan. 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Lu Boan)


A cook in South China's Guangdong recently lost his hearing after cutting raw pork with a wound on his hand. He was diagnosed with meningitis caused by streptococcus suis, a rare zoonotic disease, according to reports.

The patient, surnamed Chen, initially suffered from a high fever, nausea, vomiting and serious headache. His condition improved after treatment in the hospital, but he later found his hearing was gradually being lost.

As Chen became extremely deaf in both ears at the time of treatment, he had to receive a cochlear implant, according to Guangdong Daily.

Fortunately, Chen's hearing is gradually recovering with the artificial cochlear; he will be able to communicate with others normally in the future, reports said.

Chen was diagnosed with meningitis caused by streptococcus suis, a rare zoonotic disease which can cause hearing impairment, an even more frightening sequela, although the mortality rate of the disease is low, according to Zheng Yiqing, Chen's doctor and director of the otorhinolaryngology department of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province.

About 50 percent of patients with streptococcus suis meningitis suffer from sensorineural hearing loss, and permanent hearing loss would occur if treatment is not delivered in time, Zheng said.

As Chen recalled, before the onset of the illness, he used to touch raw pork with his bare hands, including when his thumb had a small wound, Guangzhou Daily reported.

Infections related to streptococcus suis meningitis usually occur from coming into contact with sick or dead pigs, or pork contaminated by streptococcus suis. Most infection cases in humans happen through wounds in the skin, while some are through the respiratory tract, Sheng Jifang, director of the infectious disease department with the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, told the Global Times.

Streptococcus suis can invade the brain and cause infectious damage to the patient's meninges. It can result in permanent nerve damage, hearing and eyesight impairment, and could lead to systemic inflammatory response syndrome, an inflammatory state affecting the whole body, causing death, Sheng said.

The disease is more common in summer as bacteria grows faster in warmer temperatures. Pig breeders, slaughters, pork vendors, quarantine personnel and people processing pork are susceptible to the disease.

"People who have wounds on their skin need to disinfect them immediately after touching raw pork, and seek help from doctors if necessary," Sheng said.

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