Listeriosis in SA: No outbreak, says NICD
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The 2017/18 listeriosis outbreak caused panic among South Africans, and led to the deaths of more than 200 people. Hundreds fell sick - it was the worst-ever outbreak recorded in the country.
The outbreak was traced back to a Tiger Brands factory.
Many have been scared of the return of the deadly disease. However, The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has announced that there is no evidence of an outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.
The institute said the end of the outbreak was in September last year, 87 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported in the country.
Furthermore, NICD confirmed that there have been no unusual trends in the epidemiological patterns of disease, or in the whole genome sequencing analysis of isolates from patients; such data are analysed on an ongoing basis in order to detect possible clusters or outbreaks.
Prior to the outbreak, there were about 100 cases reported per year.
When asked who can be affected by listeriosis, Mark Van Der Heever, spokesperson of the Western Cape Government Health said the age groups that are most affected are neonates (that means the first 28 days of life) (37%) and the age group between 15 to 49 years (33%). The two groups comprise 70% of all cases.
Those at high risk of severe disease are; newborns, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and their unborn babies, and those with underlying conditions such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease.
"In persons with weak immunity, Listeriosis can lead to meningitis or septicemia. In pregnant women, Listeriosis may result in pregnancy loss (abortion) along with meningitis of their infant," said Van Der Heever.
To decrease the risk of listeriosis and other foodborne diseases, The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) advises people to practice food safety measures such as:
- Practice good hand hygiene – including washing hands before and after eating, and preparing food
- Separate raw and cooked food.
- Cook food thoroughly.
- Keep food at safe temperatures.
- Use safe water and safe raw foodstuffs when preparing food.