Know the facts about Listeriosis

2018-01-18 06:00

Listeriosis is a deadly disease associated with unhygienic behaviour, such as the non-washing of hands before meals and after using the toilet.

Failure to thoroughly clean raw food before cooking has also been considered as a contributing facto to the disease.

So far, more than 500 cases of the disease have been reported in the country in the last few months with the Western Cape having the second highest number of cases.

In a statement released by the Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, it says the disease occurs every year, with about 60 to 80 cases being detected and treated.

“However, in July 2017 doctors from neonatal units in Chris Hani Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitals alerted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases(NICD) about the unusually high number of babies with Listeriosis. This triggered a review of all cases diagnosed in both public and private hospitals.

In October 2017 the Multisectoral National Outbreak Response Team (MNORT) was briefed on the situation in the country.

Tracing from 1 January 2017, as of 29 November 2017, a total of 557 laboratory-confirmed Listeriosis cases have been reported from all provinces.

Most cases have been reported from Gauteng (62%,345/557) followed by Western Cape (13%, 71/557) and KwaZulu-Natal(7%, 37/557),” he said.

He said groups which are most affected are new born babies, in the first 28 days of life (37%) and the age group between 15 to 49 years (33%). These two groups comprise 70 per cent of all cases.

“There are four possible sources of Listeriosis in general. These are directly at origin e.g. farm, food processing plant, retail and food preparation at home.

But we believe for this particular outbreak, the most likely possible source is contamination food at origin e.g. farms and agriculture as well as food processing plants.

The source of this outbreak is currently being investigated, and all the stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the NICD. Environmental Health Officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting their homes to sample food where available,” said the minister.

Up to 36 people have already died from the diseases so far with Motsoaledi urging the public to practice food safety measures.

“Whilst we continue with the investigation, the WHO has advised on following five keys to food safety: Keep clean. Wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation. Please do not get tired of washing your hands if it means washing hundred times a day, please do it!

If you are handling or storing raw food, do not touch already cooked food unless you have thoroughly washed your hands and food preparation utensils. In other words separate raw from cooked food.

  • However, locals seem to not have much information about the disease, with some even suggesting that the department do more to communicate the warning.

City Vision took to the streets to gauge readers awareness or rather ignorance of the disease.

. NTOMBOKUQALA MBANDEZELO: “I have never heard of Listeriosis. From what you telling me I am worried now because we all need food so if its in food then we are not safe.”

. PHELEKA LITE: “I have heard about it on the radio but I’m not really worried.

I do wash my hand before eating and also prepare food well. But I’m not overly worried about it.”

. SOLATHISO DLAMINI: “This is the first time I hear about it. I’m not really worried about it, I have not seeing anyone sick with it.”

. HLALELE MAPUPA: “I have heard about it on the radio and I’m really worried because we always on the road buying food on the street. I heard it mostly affected people in Gauteng but it’s also here so there is a reason to be concerned.”

. NYAMEKO BENENENGE: “I have not heard of it before but I am worried now that I know we have this disease.

We buy meat at street stalls all the time so we dont even know if it has been properly cleaned or not. I am really worried about it.”


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