Deadly food-borne disease kills 36 people in South Africa, origin unknown

FILE Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

Deadly food-borne disease kills 36 people in South Africa, origin unknown

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has urged anyone who is displaying symptoms of Listeriosis to seek medical attention immediately following the outbreak of the disease across South Africa.

Listeriosis is a serious but rare infection, mainly caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes which is found in soil, water and vegetation.

Extra precautions such as regular hand- washing when dealing with food, cooking food thoroughly, using pasteurised milk products and keeping food at safe temperatures could assist in preventing its spread.

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Pregnant women, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system, i.e. people in immuno-compromised status due to HIV/Aids, leukaemia, cancer, kidney transplant and steroid therapy, are at greatest risk of severe listeriosis.

Head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Juno Thomas said the number of deaths will increase as they receive final outcome data on the reported cases.

Symtoms from the food-borne disease include diarrhoea, fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness.

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"This triggered a review of all cases diagnosed in both public and private hospitals", he said.

Gauteng province, South Africa's economic hub, had 62 percent of the reported cases, followed by the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, with 13 percent and KwaZulu-Natal, site of the country's main port, Durban, with 7 percent. A total of 557 cases have been confirmed so far, according to health minister Aaron Motsoaledi. "The remaining 18% is distributed in the remaining six provinces‚" Motsoaledi said.

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