Monday, 19 February, 2018

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

Electron micrograph of listeria monocytogenes bacterium in tissue Electron micrograph of listeria monocytogenes bacterium in tissue
Patty Aguilar | 06 December, 2017, 00:20

The deaths were reported out of the 557 laboratory confirmed cases tracing from January 1 to November 29 this year, according to the Department of Health.

South Africa is battling an outbreak of a bacterium disease which has killed 36 people across the country out of the over 500 cases recorded last month.

An outbreak of food-borne listeria bacteria has claimed 36 lives and infected nearly 600 people in South Africa, the health minister said Tuesday, warning that newborns and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Motsoaledi reiterates listeriosis is treatable and preventable.

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Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium found in soil, water and vegetation. It was probably spread by "a food product that is widely distributed and consumed by people across all socio-economic groups", Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

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.

The national institute of communicable diseases (NICD) was notified of the outbreak by doctors at two Gauteng hospitals who had noticed an unusually high number of babies with Listeriosis. People usually contract it through animal products and fresh fruits and vegetables. This triggered a review of all cases diagnosed in both public and private hospitals.

Motsoaledi explained: "There are three things that can happen to you when you get listeriosis; you can get flu-like symptoms or diarrhoea, septicaemia, which is the infection of the whole bloodstream and meningoencephalitis, meaning your brain and membrane surrounding the brain are infected". It can be treated with an antibiotic called ampicillin.

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