Bacteria outbreak kills 36 in South Africa

Getty Images  iStock

Getty Images iStock

Health officials are trying to determine the source of the recent outbreak of listeriosis that claimed 36 lives in South Africa.

"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".

Although anyone can get #Listeriosis, those at high risk include newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weak immunity such as those with HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease.

"However, in July this year, doctors from neonatal units in Chris Hani Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitals alerted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases about the unusually high numbers of babies with listeriosis".

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi called on South Africans to be vigilant and immediately report flu-like symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, general body pains and weakness at the nearest hospital.

Gauteng is the worst hit with 62% of cases, 37% in Western Cape and 7% in KwaZulu Natal.

Motsoaledi further explained that they concluded that the disease was an outbreak when it reached 500 cases.

Environmental health officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting patients' homes to sample food where available, Motsoaledi said. "The remaining 18% is distributed in the remaining six provinces‚" Motsoaledi said.

This includes using only pasteurised dairy products; thoroughly cooking raw foods from animal sources such as beef, poultry or pork; washing hands before preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet; and washing raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating.

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