Listeriosis has deadly company on notifiable list

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The government is regarding Listeriosis in a serious light.
The government is regarding Listeriosis in a serious light.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has addressed the media on the updated Listeriosis figures for the country.

Motsoaledi added that the country's list of notifiable medical conditions (NMCs) had been updated during December and Listeriosis was now a category 1 NMC.

Rapid spread and unusual behaviour

The disease joins the likes of Ebola, anthrax, whooping cough and plague.

In order for the disease to qualify as notifiable, it would need to meet two of the five points of the qualifying criteria:

  • The disease must be contagious or communicable
  • Rapid spread
  • Unusual or unexpected behaviour
  • Risk of spilling across borders
  • Risk of restriction to business or travel across borders

The Health Department has concluded that the disease qualifies because it spreads rapidly and has unusual or unexpected behaviour.

In December 2017, the Department of Health included Listeriosis in the Category 1 Classification of Notifiable Medical Conditions in the Government Gazette number 41330 of 15 December 2017 – a new policy document which details the regulations for surveilling and controlling NMCs.

Category 1 NMCs are considered highly contagious diseases and require immediate reporting to authorities through the fastest medium possible, once diagnosis has been made.

Continuing challenges

A number of organisations are working together to find the source of the outbreak around the country, but the Department continues to face challenges when tracing the numerous laboratory-confirmed cases back to the actual patients around the country.

Out of the 727, the Department has only managed to trace 134 patients, and of those, 61 patients have died.

The Minister and Health Department are asking health professionals in the public and private sector to report all cases of Listeriosis according the procedures applicable to all NMCs.

Motsoaledi added that health professionals need to complete case investigation forms for patients with Listeriosis and submit these forms to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. More information for health professionals and the public can be sourced from the NICD website.

Image credit: iStock

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