The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said since the announcement of the end of the outbreak in September last year, 87 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported in the country.

Johannesburg - Last year a listeriosis diagnosis would be cause for panic.

But now it seems 87 confirmed cases since the deadly outbreak are no cause for alarm for health officials.

The 2017/18 outbreak led to the deaths of more than 200 people across the country.

The deadly outbreak was traced back to a Tiger Brands factory.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said since the announcement of the end of the outbreak in September last year, 87 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported in the country.

Prior to the outbreak, there were about 100 cases reported per year. During the outbreak, 1064 cases were reported. Since the end of the outbreak  the number of new cases has returned to pre-outbreak levels. From 3 September 2018 to 18 September 2019, only 87 cases were reported. 

The NICD  has stressed that in the reported cases,  no new cases of the  ST6 outbreak strain have been identified since the first week of September 2018.

"There is no evidence of an outbreak, either from the ST6 outbreak strain or any other strain," the NICD said.

The institute is investigating 61 of the 87 cases, 77% of all confirmed cases - 21 people have died.

Most of the reported cases occurred in Gauteng with 31, followed by Western Cape, 23, and KwaZulu-Natal with 16 cases.

“Ages range from birth to 80 years and 57% are female. Thirty-six percent of cases are pregnancy associated, with 30 out of 84 cases, followed by adults aged 15-49 and 50-64.

“Four cases in children aged from a month to 14 were reported,” the NICD stated.

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhoea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

But infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness.

This month, lawyers representing people affected by the listeriosis outbreak in lawsuits against Tiger Brands said the court action was facing long delays. The company received summons for the class action in April last year.

The South Gauteng High Court determined that Richard Spoor Attorneys could continue the class action on behalf of about 1000 people.

Tiger Brands has issued subpoenas against food-testing laboratories to obtain information about the identities of people who submitted samples for testing listeriosis and the results of those tests during the outbreak.

Two laboratories, Aspirata and Deltamune, have indicated that they would oppose this as the information is confidential. In a worst-case scenario, the matter could go all the way to the Constitutional Court, which could take years, Spoor said in an interview.

The Star