Oz: Piggery workers contract heart infection
Two piggery workers in Australia have survived a
potentially deadly disease of the heart valves after contracting a bug from pigs
which were bound for the abattoir.
A 46-year-old woman and a 58-year-old man were treated at Canberra
Hospital, for fevers, sweating and severe weight loss caused by endocarditis, a
serious condition where bacteria settle on the heart valves and spread infection
throughout the body. The woman required a heart valve replacement to
The bacterium, Streptococcus suis, is common in pigs and can
transfer to humans through contact with live or dead pigs, though exactly how is
unknown. Only two cases had previously been reported in Australia, one in 1993
and a second in April last year, when a Melbourne meat processor, 41, developed
toxic shock syndrome from it.
Paul Seale, a professor of clinical
pharmacology at Sydney University, said the cases should serve as a warning. "We
need occupational health and safety experts to go into these piggeries and
rigorously examine ways in which the workers can be better protected from this
exposure before it happens again."
It has taken a heavy toll in the
industry, most recently in 2005, when 215 Chinese butchers and meat processors
became infected, killing more than half of them.Click here for
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