Strains of Listeria found at Johannesburg food outlet

Johannesburg – The City of Johannesburg has uncovered a food outlet that contains strains of Listeria, member of the mayoral committee Dr Mpho Phalatse said on Friday.

Phalatse, who is part of the health and social development portfolio, said environmental health practitioners in the city made the discovery earlier in the day.

Phalatse said samples were taken to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for "confirmatory testing".

She called on residents not to panic but to "remain vigilant and adhere to food safety guidelines".

"We are awaiting lab confirmation of whether or not this is a disease-causing strain of the organism.  We should have results in the next 24 to 48 hours."

Strategic advisor in the office of the MMC Dominic Mahlangu told News24 the City was not naming the business to avoid panic.

"Steps are being taken to sterilise the area. We do not want the business to suffer serious damage and we do not want to spread panic."

He said the business was not closed but that "cautionary measures" were put in place.

"Until we get final lab results, we can't close them down."

Phalatse called on residents to continue adhering to food safety guidelines.

"Report to their nearest clinic if they start experiencing symptoms associated with the disease, especially pregnant women, babies below the age of 28 days, senior citizens above the age of 65 and immunocompromised patients."

Symptoms include:
•    Fever
•    Stiff neck
•    Confusion
•    General weakness
•    Vomiting (sometimes preceded by diarrhoea)

READ: What you should know about the deadly Listeriosis outbreak

There are 17 strains of the organism, but not all of them are disease-causing.

The major human pathogen in the Listeria genus is L. monocytogenes. It is usually the causative agent of the relatively rare bacterial disease Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

As of this week, a total of 764 Listeriosis cases have been reported across the country. The City of Joburg has reported 212 cases and 19 deaths so far.

Phalatse said she will support Mayor Herman Mashaba in bringing order to all sectors of society in the city, including those who supply and handle food.

She said her department will continue with public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of Listeriosis.

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