Australia’s first case of toxic shock syndrome caused by a pig carcass has been officially reported although doctors investigating the case believe there may have been three more human infections elsewhere in Australia.
The pet-food worker, a 41 year old man, developed the human form of the deadly pig disease, caused by Streptococcus suis, while processing animals at a Melbourne plant.
The disease has killed meat workers in Asia, most recently in China, where 215 butchers and processors were infected in 2005, half proving fatal.
The Melbourne man however, survived his week-long bout of severe fever, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting and dizziness, made a full recovery and has since changed jobs, although a WorkSafe visit to the processing plant raised occupational health and safety concerns.
In an interview the supervising specialist Dr Adrian Tramontana said, “Initially we believed our patient was the first human case of Streptococcus suis toxic shock syndrome in Australia, but we have since been informed of at least three possible human cases in other parts of Australia.”
“Victoria reported 33 cases of the infection in pigs between 2002-06, with no recent rise. It is caught through contact with infected pigs or pork, and transferred through wounds or inhaled. Quick identification of the human infection was vital as mortality may be high without timely treatment,” he said.