Raw meat review trend raises risk of Streptococcus suis infection in Thailand

Photo by lindaolah

A recent online trend involving the consumption of raw meat dishes, combined with cultural practices, has increased the risk of Streptococcus suis infections in Thailand. Health officials have expressed concern, as eight fatalities and a total of 163 cases of meningitis have been reported since January 1.

The popularity of raw food and alcohol consumption has spiked due to social media influencers and platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The imitation of this trend has led to a surge in cases of potentially fatal infection. Nakhon Ratchasima is one of the provinces hit hardest by the outbreak, with 31 cases reported and one death.

The majority of cases were found in individuals working in agriculture, followed by day labourers and sales staff. Consumption of raw or undercooked pork, including dishes like raw meat larb or larb with blood, has contributed to the increased risk of infection with the Streptococcus suis bacterium that is present in the respiratory tract and blood of infected pigs.

The infection can spread through contact with open wounds or abrasions, the conjunctiva of the eye, and consumption of contaminated food. Symptoms include high fever, headache, chills, confusion, joint pain, muscle stiffness, hearing loss or sudden hearing impairment, and others. The bacterium can also cause respiratory distress, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and a widespread skin rash.

Health officials urge the public to be cautious when handling food and to consume only fully cooked pork and properly prepared blood, heated to at least 70°C. When eating barbecue dishes, separate utensils should be used for raw and cooked meat. Adhering to the principles of “cooked, hot, and clean” and avoiding raw pork along with alcohol consumption are recommended. Consumers should buy pork only from reputable sources and avoid unknown origins.

Those who handle pigs, slaughterhouse workers, butchers, animal health officials, and veterinarians should wear rubber boots, gloves, and proper protective clothing. Any wounds should be covered securely, and hands should be washed after contact with pigs.

Thailand News

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.