36 dead in Listeriosis outbreak, SA

Written by on December 6, 2017

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that 36 people have died in South Africa following an outbreak of the foodborne disease, Listeriosis.

According to a statement, 557 cases have been reported between 1 January and 29 November 2017.

82% of these cases have come from Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The minister has said that Listeriosis is serious, but that it is treatable (with orally administered antibiotics) and preventable.

The disease is caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, which is distributed widely in nature.

The bacterium may be found in soil, water and vegetation.

As a result, it may also be present in animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables.

There are three conditions in which the disease may manifest:
– a flu like illness with diarrhoea including fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness
– infection of the blood stream which is called septiceamia
– meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain).

Anyone can develop Listeriosis, however, newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity are more susceptible to the disease.

According to the statement, the source of the outbreak is being investigated but it is believed to be a contamination of food at the origin (farms, agriculture and food processing plants).

Motsoaledi presented five keys to food safety, as suggested by the World Health Organisation:
1. Wash your hands before and while handling food
2. Separate raw food from cooked food by avoiding touching cooked food after you have handled raw food with your hands or any utensils
3. Ensure that food, especially meat products, are cooked thoroughly. Food that does not require cooking must be thoroughly washed with clean, running water.
4. Store food at safe temperatures.
5. Use pasteurised milk. Alternatively, boil unpasteurised milk before consumption.

If you experience any of the symptoms, consult a doctor immediately or contact NICD Emergency Operations Centre during working hours at 011 386 2000.


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