Deadly listeria outbreak is food-borne: Motsoaledi

Hospital ward in South Africa's Kwa Zulu Natal. Source Africa Doctors

Hospital ward in South Africa's Kwa Zulu Natal. Source Africa Doctors

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed a countrywide outbreak of foodborne Listeria.

The minister said those who contract the disease will have flu-like symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, general body pains and weakness.

The bacteria are widely found in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

This can lead to septicaemia and meningoencephalitis‚Äö which is an infection of the brain.

He said the bacteria was not new, as it occurs every year and is seen in hospitals with only 60 to 80 cases detected and treated each year.

"Out of 557 cases, we are certain of the final outcome (discharge or death) for 70 cases". Dr Motsoaledi stated 36 people have died due to the disease.

However, Motsoaledi stressed that while the disease is serious and unsafe, it is treatable with antibiotics and urged that anyone who is showing symptoms should get medical help immediately.

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"There are four possible sources; farms, food processing plants, retail and food preparation at home".

Listeriosis can be best prevented by eating hot, cooked foods, washing hands and raw vegetables thoroughly and by avoiding raw, uncooked, non-pasteurised dairy products.

The source of this outbreak is now being investigated, and all the stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the NICD.

It poses a higher risk for newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weak immunity, the health department said.

The Western Cape had reported 71 cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 37 cases.

To find out more, you can contact the NICD at 011-386-2000.

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