Listeriosis outbreak under control

18 December 2017  Read: 274


The Department of Health has issued a warning after the outbreak of the Listeriosis disease caused by food poisoning emanating from the soil and water. The disease was announced by Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Though not new, the disease has killed 36 people this year while 557 cases were reported.

Motsoaledi  said the disease has been around for more than 40 years and is caused by a bacteria that may be found in the soil that vegetables are farmed in, food production and processing plants, packaging at retail outlets, and at home during food preparation. The flu-like disease can be fought through changing eating habits and food preparation methods. Half-cooked meat and unpasteurised dairy products are primary sources of the disease.

“The disease was around for about 33 years when I qualified as doctor. It was controllable over the years since about 60 to 80 cases were reported annually, but now about 557 cases were reported with more than 36 deaths so far. We decided to declare an outbreak. Listeriosis is not contagious, not communicable or noticeable and it could only be contracted through consumption and not human beings,” said Motsoaledi.

Motsoaledi said symptons of the disease are flu-like and include, fever, headaches, vomiting, forever thirsty, and when the person got sick the blood is poisoned and results in neck sickness, spinal cord problems, later to develop into meningitis and even epilepsy. He explained that as preventative measures, people should avoid half cooked food, unpasteurised milk because the bacteria could not withstand boiling heat.

The minister also said the disease is curable and there is an antibiotic for it at hospitals. He urged citizens to be always alert  and follow the World Health Organisation (WHO) Key to food safety measures which are- cleanliness, separate raw with cooked food, eat well-cooked food, milk should be served pasteurised and salads and fruit should be cleaned before processing.

He added that those residing in rural villages and rely on streams as their source of water should at least boil the water for five minutes before use on anything, milk direct from the cow should first be boiled before use.

Listeriosis is curable and not categorised as an epidemic. It is not contagious like TB, which kills 40 000 people annually, hence the death of 36 people could raise an alarm. People are urged to come out early as it can be deadly if left unattended for a long time.

— Jan Mafetsa



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