The Limpopo Department of Health has issued warnings to communities in the province to thoroughly wash vegetables before eating them as the Listeriosis outbreak continues to spread across the country with the current national death toll sitting at 67.
According to the provincial department, 33 people have been diagnosed with the infection so far and two deaths reported to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Limpopo Health MEC’s spokesperson Thabiso Teffo said the department was doing everything in its power to prevent further infections in the province.
“The MEC has been on the radio about this. The community has been advised to wash vegetables thoroughly before eating; boil their food especially meat, avoid unpasteurised milk, cold meats, soft cheese and seafood,” he said.
Teffo further highlighted that the department was currently training health workers with assistance from the NICD and also pleaded with environmental health officers to assist by visiting the affected families to diagnose the root cause of the foodborne disease as well as check their food.
According to the NICD, which conducts surveillance for all communicable diseases across the country, Listeriosis is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is transmitted to people through contaminated food. Most healthy people exposed to Listeria do not fall ill and the vast majority of cases are mild.
However, the NICD warned that some infections are serious and vulnerable people may present with meningitis or bacteraemia or pregnancy-related complications including miscarriages, stillbirths, premature deliveries and infections in newborns.
Democratic Alliance’ Shadow Minister of Health Patricia Kopane said the outbreak may have a negative impact on country’s local food producers as some countries such as Rwanda have banned the import of various foods from South Africa.