LOOK: Country in the grip of the outbreak of listeriosis disease


Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday that South Africa is grappling with an outbreak of listeriosis, a disease he described as serious but treatable and preventable.

"Listeria is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

" Animal products and fresh products such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources. "Motsoaledi said when addressing a press conference convened to announce the outbreak in Pretoria.

He said infection with listeria can cause conditions that include flu-like illness with diarrhea, which includes fever, general body aches , vomiting and weakness, bloodstream infection called septicemia and meningoencephalitis [infection of the brain].

"Although anyone can get listeriosis, those at high risk of developing a serious disease include newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, people with immunity weak as HIV, diabetes, cancer, liver or chronic kidney disease [patients].

"Listeria monocytogenes is a disease that occurs every year and is observed in our hospitals, generally 60 to 80 cases are detected and treated annually," said the minister.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi addresses the media in Pretoria about the outbreak of foodborne listeriosis. VIDEO: ANA

He, however, said in July, doctors from the neonatal units at Chris Hani-Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic Hospital alerted the National Institute of Communicable Diseases about "unusually high numbers" of babies with listeriosis. This led to a review of all cases diagnosed in public and private hospitals.

"As of November 29, 2017, as of January 1, a total of 557 confirmed laboratory cases of listeriosis have been reported in all provinces.

" This number is extremely high. We had never reached a number of 557 before. We had never left 100 per year, that's why we think we have an outbreak.

"Most cases have been reported from the province of Gauteng, which accounts for 62 percent of the cases, followed by the Western Cape, which represents 13 percent," he said.

"Of the 557 laboratory confirmed cases, 34 percent were from private health facilities and 66 were from public health facilities.

" Given that only 17 percent of South Africans use private health facilities , this proportion of cases private health facilities are too high.

"We believe that it indicates that the source of the outbreak is probably a widely distributed food product consumed by people of all socioeconomic groups."

Of the 557 cases, the government has so far managed to track at least 70 of those affected. Motsoaledi said that of those 70 cases, 36 patients have died since then.

Dr. Rufaro Chatora, representative in the country of the World Health Organization, said that the world body is "satisfied" that since the outbreak was detected, South Africa has been following established procedures in international health regulations. .

"We are pleased that the government is initiating research to understand how the outbreak is being transmitted.

" Once information becomes available, an adequate public health response will be established. Meanwhile, it is important for the public to know how they can prevent the spread of this outbreak, "said Chatora.

The national health department says that the main preventive measure is to always ensure that good hygiene is followed. [19659003] includes the exclusive use of pasteurized dairy products, thoroughly cooking raw foods from animal sources such as beef, chicken or pork, washing hands before preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet, and thoroughly washing vegetables and fruits before eating 19659022] African News Agency

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