Motsoaledi, NICD warns of a food-borne disease outbreak

JOHANNESBURG – Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Tuesday warned about the outbreak of listeria, a disease spread through different food products.

Listeriosis, which has already claimed 36 lives in South Africa is largely associated with a variety of foods, including meat products, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and other ready-to-eat food products in general.

The NICD has confirmed that a total of 557 cases of listeria have been recorded in all the nine provinces of the country, with the Gauteng province being the most affected of them all.

Motsoaledi says people at high risk to contact the disease include newly born babies, pregnant women, the elderly as well as people with weak immunity such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or chronic liver.

According to the minister, the disease results in a flu-like illness with diarrhoea including fever, vomiting, general body pains and weakness; adding that it can infect the blood stream (septiceamia) or meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain).

Although both the NICD and Motsoaledi have confirmed that listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, they all urged South Africans and foreigners living in South Africa to wash their hands before and during food preparation.                                                                                                 

The minister also urged people to store their food products at safe temperatures all the time.

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