Health Minister says SA is in the grip of Listeriosis

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Getty Images iStock

Motsoaledi said the cause of the outbreak was now being investigated and urged South Africans to wash their hands and keep food at safe temperatures.

Thirty-six people have died in South Africa from an outbreak of the food-borne disease listeriosis, the country's Department of Health said on Tuesday.

Motsoaledi has confirmed that 36 people have died of it and 557 cases have been detected.

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The disease is found in soil, water and contaminated food and is spread through eating contaminated food products such as raw or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses, but also vegetables, processed foods, ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products, said the NICD. And animal products and fresh produce can become contaminated.

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.

Motsoaledi, however, says in July doctors from neonatal units at two Gauteng hospitals reported an unusually high number of babies with listeriosis. This triggered a review of all cases diagnosed in both public and private hospitals.

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During the briefing held at the GCIS in Hatfield today Motsoaledi explained that listeriosis is a serious but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium called listeria monocytogenes.

"If you encounter the symptoms I've mentioned, please rush to look for medical help, in other words, don't just assume and sit at home especially if you get flu-like symptoms now in the summer", he warned.

Motsoaledi says the exact source of the outbreak is under investigation. It can be treated with an antibiotic called ampicillin.

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