People educated against listeria

2018-03-07 06:01

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EASTERN Cape Department of Health spokesperson Siyanda Manana has assured the public that the department will continue with surveillance activities on the listeria cases in the province, as well as educating the general public on the dangers and what to avoid.

This after the announcement by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, on Sunday on the source of the present listeria outbreak gripping the country.

In a statement, Dr Motsoaledi confirmed that products from the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane were the source of the outbreak.

“In our constant search for the source of the outbreak and the treatment of people who are affected, a team from the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) interviewed over 100 ill people to obtain details about foods they had eaten in the month before falling ill.

“Ninety three people reported eating ready-to-eat processed meat products, of which polony was the most common, followed by viennas, sausages and other cold meats,” Motsoaledi said in the statement.

He urged South Africans to stop consuming all processed products immediately.

Manana on Monday said that in the Eastern Cape, 36 cases were reported in 2017 and 12 in 2018 so far.

“From January to February 28, four listeria cases were reported in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, three in the Sarah Baartman Municipality, of whom one died, three in the Buffalo City Municipality and two in the Amathole District Municipality,” Manana said.

“We are going to continue educating the public on basic hygiene. We have seen districts like Alfred Nzo which have community dialogues and such on the prevention of listeria. We will consolidate what these districts did after receiving written reports from them and release a comprehensive report,” Manana said.

Motsoaledi said that “the recall of these products does not mean that members of the public must now relax and stop the five food safety rules, such as washing your hands before handling food or when coming back from the bathroom, making sure that food is well cooked, isolating raw food from cooked food, making sure that food is at an appropriate temperature and washing non-cooked food with clean running water, as well as using only pasteurised or boiled milk products”.

He said that the general status of hygiene of the population must still be a matter of priority to society as a whole, and must remain like that forever.

People at high risk for listeriosis include:

  • pregnant women
  • neonates (first 28 days of life)
  • very young infants
  • elderly persons over 65 years of age, and
  • anyone with a weakened immune system (due to HIV infection, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, people with transplants and those on immunosuppressive therapy, such as oral corticosteroids, chemotherapy, or anti-TNF therapy for auto-immune diseases).
  • Symptoms of listeriosis include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, nausea and diarrhoea.

    Some high risk patients may experience confusion, a stiff neck, loss of balance or convulsions.

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