Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announces outbreak of food borne disease in South Africa

Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi

A conference was held this morning where the outbreak of listeriosis was disussed by the health minister.

Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation. Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources.

Motsoaledi said, ” The disease occurs every year and is seen in our hospitals, typically 60 – 80 cases are detected and treated annually. However, in July 2017 Doctors from neonatal units in the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitalss alerted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases(NICD) about unusually high numbers of babies with listeriosis. This triggered a review of all cases diagnosed in both public and private hospitals. ”

The source of this outbreak is currently being investigated, and all the stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the NICD. Environmental Health Officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting their homes to sample food where available.

Infection with listeria may result in the following three conditions:

  • 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)

The minister further urged the public to keep food at safe temperatures, to wash  hands before handling food and often during food preparation and to use safe water for domestic use at all times and use pasteurised milk products. In situations where pastueurization is not possible, for own domestic consumption, boil the milk prior to use.

Members of the public are advised to call the NICD Emergency Operations Centre during working hours on 011 386 2000.


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