Listeriosis outbreak teams are ready

South Africa is experiencing a spike in cases of the illness‚ with 557 reported since January 1. At least 36 people have died this year‚ according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

Most of the cases have been reported in Gauteng. MMC for Health and Social Development‚ Dr Mpho Phalatse‚ urged residents to educate themselves on the types of foods that are most likely to contain the Listeria bacteria and which preventative measures to take towards their health‚ especially pregnant women‚ the elderly and individuals with compromised immunity.

Phalatse said it was important to check that the labels from dairy products‚ such as soft cheese‚ ice cream and yogurt‚ say “made with pasteurised milk”‚ or otherwise avoid eating these products.

Listeriosis is a food-borne illness that is associated with eating a wide variety of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes‚ including dairy products and produce‚ fresh vegetables and fruit‚ as well as ready-to-eat products. After infection‚ the incubation period can be between three to 70 days.

Symptoms include fever‚ muscle pain‚ restlessness and sometimes nausea or diarrhoea. In at-risk patients‚ the spread of infection to the nervous system can cause meningitis‚ leading to headaches‚ confusion‚ stiff neck‚ loss of balance or convulsions. The presence of bacteria in the blood‚ also known as bacteraemia‚ may also occur.

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The disease primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns‚ adults aged 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems.

Director of Public Health in the City of Joburg‚ Dr Baskie Desai said: “We have activated our environmental health outbreak units to monitor all our food outlets and also assist in educating communities on what steps to take to remain safe.”

The city’s action plan will focus on:

Source: TimesLIVE