Health officials investigate source of listeria

JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says health officials are in the process of determining the source of listeria, a food-borne disease that has already claimed 36 lives in South Africa in recent months.

Although it has been confirmed that the disease is contaminated through food products like dairy products, meat products and vegetable products, Motsoaledi says health officials are conducting an extensive research as to how the disease end up in these products.

The investigations, led by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), are designed to determine best solutions of stopping the spread of the disease.

“We believe for this outbreak; the most likely possible source is either contamination of food at the origin of farms or from food processing plants.

The source of this outbreak is currently being investigated and all stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases,” said the minister.

According to Motsoaledi, this rare but dangerous food-borne disease largely affect pregnant women, newly born babies, the elderly as well as people with weak immunity such as HIV, kidney disease, cancer or diabetes.

The minister also confirmed that over 500 cases of people diagnosed with the disease have been confirmed in all the nine provinces of South Africa, with Gauteng being the most affected.

“Environmental health officials are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting homes to sample food, where possible,” he concluded.

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