By The Nation
The disease - known in Thai as "Hu Dap" (sudden hearing loss) following its most prominent symptom - is acquired through exposure to contaminated pigs or pig meat.
Doctors have warned locals to refrain from eating the region's famous pork dishes such as spicy minced pork and spicy blood pork soup, which may be improperly or insufficiently cooked. The infection could lead to deafness or even death.
Hospital deputy director Dr Pongthep Wongwatcharapaiboon said most of the eight cases stemmed from the consumption of raw pork dishes.
He noted that more cases may arise later this year as the infection often occurs during the overlapping period between summer and rainy seasons.
He urged people to buy fresh pork meat from good standard sources and refrain from eating meat from a pig that was sick and had died.
According to the Department of Disease Control (DDC), more than 50 patients (12 of whom later died) were reported since January 1 until April 28.
Last year, there were 338 Streptococcus suis cases reported in Thailand, 12 of whom later died.
Streptococcus suis infection can be contracted in two ways. Firstly, a person can contact the disease if he/she has an open wound when exposed to the infected pork meat, organ or blood. Secondly, a person can contact it by consuming improperly cooked pork that has the bacteria.
Symptoms will show in three to five days in the form of high fever, severe headache, dizziness to the point of loosing body balance, vomiting, having a stiff neck, diarrhea, muscle pain, arthritis, cellulitis, and hearing loss.
People with such signs must seek a medical attention immediately to get timely treatment, reducing the chance of having a serious blood infection, permanent deafness or even death.