December 17, 2017

At least 30 dead from listeriosis outbreak in SA

05 December 2017, 03:51 | Silvia Roy

At least 30 dead from listeriosis outbreak in SA

Health department warns of deadly disease outbreak

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said South Africa is experiencing a very large outbreak of listeriosis.

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, said out of 557 cases it knows the final outcome (discharge or death) for 70 of them.

By the end of last month, 557 cases had been confirmed, compared with about 80 cases annually in past years, the department said.

Three provinces are responsible for 82% of cases.

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He explained that the disease was "a serious‚ but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium‚ Listeria monocytogenes".

Listeriosis is marked by flu-like symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever, general body pains, vomiting, weakness, septicaemia and meningoencephalitis.

The department has not found the origin of the outbreak but suspects food contamination at the source, such as farms or food processing plants.

Motsoaledi says the bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

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Listeriosis is a foodborne illness associated with a wide variety of foods, including dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, and ready-to-eat products.

Most have been reported from Gauteng Province (62%, 345/557) followed by Western Cape (71/557) and KwaZulu-Natal (37/557).

Motsoaledi added that whilst anyone can get the diseases, which has a mortality rate of between 20% - 30%, those at a high risk of developing the disease are newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity systems such as HIV or cancer sufferers.

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