Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Listeriosis outbreak claims 36 lives in S

Listeriosis outbreak claims 36 lives in S

An outbreak of food-borne listeria bacteria has claimed 36 lives and infected nearly 600 people in South Africa, the health minister said Tuesday, warning that newborns and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Motsoaledi said that while listeria is a serious disease, it can be treated with antibiotics.The bacteria is found in soil, water and vegetation, and contaminates food sources such as animal products and fresh produce.

Extra precautions such as regular hand- washing when dealing with food, cooking food thoroughly, using pasteurised milk products and keeping food at safe temperatures could assist in preventing its spread.

"Although anyone can get Listeriosis, those at high risk of developing severe disease include newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and persons with weak immunity, HIV/Aids, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease [patients]".

The minister said those who contract the disease will have flu-like symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, general body pains and weakness. "Environmental health officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting their homes to sample food where available", said Motsoaledi. We had never exited 100 per annum, that is why we believe we have an outbreak.

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Of the 557 cases, the department of health has found the final outcome of 70 confirmed cases of Listeriosis.

"Given that only 17 percent of South Africans use private health facilities, this proportion of cases from the private health facilities is too high".

Thirty-six people have died in South Africa from an outbreak of the food-borne disease listeriosis, the Department of Health said.

Motsoaledi further explained that they concluded that the disease was an outbreak when it reached 500 cases.

"We are satisfied that the government is now instituting investigations to understand how the outbreak is being transmitted".

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