Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Listeria outbreak kills 36 people in South Africa

Listeria outbreak kills 36 people in South Africa

Cape Town - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed that there is an outbreak of food-borne disease Listeriosis in South Africa.

Motsoaledi said that tracing as far back as January 1, 2017 up until November 29, 557 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported.

Motsoaledi says Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes.

Contamination in humans can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal, he added.

"From these sources, the following foodstuffs can be contaminated and cause the disease: meat and all animal products, fruits and vegetables".

He said the majority of cases have been reported in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. "Of these 70 cases 36 persons have died", he said.

Motsoaledi said it was still unknown where the outbreak originated.

People with compromised immune systems, like some of those living with AIDS and pregnant women, are also at a heightened risk, according to the World Health Organization.

Motsoaledi said the cause of the outbreak was now being investigated and urged South Africans to wash their hands and keep food at safe temperatures.

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

Members of the public can contact the NICD emergency operations centre during working hours (011 386 2000) or the NICD hotline for clinical emergencies after hours (082 883 9920).

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