Thirty-six people die in listeriosis outbreak in SA

Gauteng at centre of Listeriosis outbreak

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

"The bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil‚ water and vegetation".

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

Motsoaledi said, " The disease occurs every year and is seen in our hospitals, typically 60 - 80 cases are detected and treated annually.

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.

"Out of 557 cases, we are certain of the final outcome (discharge or death) for 70 cases".

"Most cases (62%, or 345 cases) have been reported from Gauteng‚" Motsoaledi said.

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

Pregnant women, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system, i.e. people in immuno-compromised status due to HIV/Aids, leukaemia, cancer, kidney transplant and steroid therapy, are at greatest risk of severe listeriosis.

"All the stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the NICD".

Tips to avoid listeriosis, according to the World Health Organisation.

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

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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