36 people die in listeriosis outbreak
The national health department on Tuesday issued a warning following the outbreak of the food-borne disease listeriosis.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said a total of 557 cases had been detected this year alone and at least 36 people have died in the last 11 months.
The country usually records 60-80 cases a year.
“Most cases (62%) have been reported from Gauteng province‚” Motsoaledi said‚ adding that the province had accounted for 345 of the cases reported.
The Western Cape had the second-most reported cases (71) followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 37 cases.
“As you can see the three provinces alone are responsible for 82% of the total cases. The remaining 18% is distributed in the remaining six provinces‚” Motsoaledi said.
He explained that the disease was “a serious‚ but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium‚ Listeria monocytogenes.”
People with the disease usually suffer from a flu-like illness‚ diarrhoea accompanied by a fever‚ general body pains‚ vomiting and weakness.
This leads to the infection of the bloodstream‚ which is called septiceamia and meningoencephalitis‚ which is an infection of the brain.
“The bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil‚ water and vegetation. Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources‚” Motsoaledi said.
While anyone could contract the disease‚ those who could easily contract it are newborns‚ the elderly‚ pregnant women‚ persons with weak immunity‚ such as those with HIV‚ diabetes‚ cancer‚ and chronic liver or kidney disease.
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