The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has recently updated the public on a concerning health matter involving a cluster of infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus. This update, provided on November 10 2023, highlights the risks associated with medical procedures performed by unregistered practitioners, particularly those involving injection treatments.
In this particular case, a total of 18 females have been identified as part of the suspected Mycobacterium abscessus infection cluster after injection by unregistered medical practitioner for lipolysis. This situation echoes a similar incident in 2012, where the Department of Health reported four cases of septic shock and septicemia linked to treatments at the DR Medical Beauty Group, tragically resulting in one death and two severe injuries. The culprit in both instances was the same: Mycobacterium abscessus.
Mycobacterium abscessus is a bacterium distantly related to those causing tuberculosis and Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy). Found in water, soil, and dust, it is known to contaminate medications, products, and medical devices. Infections caused by this bacterium typically affect the skin and soft tissues underneath and are particularly hazardous to individuals with open wounds or those receiving injections without proper skin disinfection.
The incident underlines the paramount importance of ensuring that injection procedures, such as those for lipolysis, are only conducted by locally registered doctors. The risks associated with unqualified individuals performing such procedures cannot be overstated. Improper sterilization techniques and the use of unsterilized instruments or medication pose a grave threat to patient safety.
Treatment for infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus is complex, often requiring the drainage of pus, removal of infected tissue, and a prolonged course of specialized antibiotics. Standard antibiotics typically used for skin infections are ineffective against this bacterium.
This alarming situation serves as a critical reminder of the importance of seeking medical treatments from qualified and registered healthcare professionals. The health and safety of patients depend on the strict adherence to medical standards, including proper sterilization and the use of sterilized equipment and medications. The public is urged to remain vigilant and to prioritize safety by consulting only registered medical practitioners for any medical treatments or procedures.