Motsoaledi still hunting to find source of deadly listeriosis outbreak

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
Image: Kgothatso Madisa

Chicken contaminated with listeria has been traced back to an abattoir and a JSE listed company‚ but tests on site have come back negative.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told a briefing in Pretoria on Monday that a chicken sample collected from the fridge at a patient's home tested positive for listeria monocytogenes.

This chicken was traced back to the store and then traced back to the abattoir. It was sourced from Sovereign Foods‚ he said.

However‚ all samples collected from the abattoir have so far failed to pick up the ST6 strain of the outbreak the country is experiencing.

As a consequence‚ authorities cannot yet link clinical isolates obtained from patients to particular foodstuffs or a food production site.

As a precaution‚ the abattoir was served with a prohibition notice pending further investigations.

Sovereign Foods‚ based in the Eastern Cape‚ is a public company listed on the JSE and one of the major poultry producers in Africa.

Listeriosis is a bacteria that is found in soil‚ water and vegetation.

Last year a total of 557 laboratory confirmed listeriosis cases were reported in all provinces. Most cases came from Gauteng with 345. The Western Cape had 71 (13%) listeriosis cases‚ followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 37 (7%). The remaining (18%) of cases were spread across the remaining six provinces.

Of the 727 laboratory confirmed cases‚ only 134 actual patients were traced‚ the health department said. Out of the traced patients‚ 61 have died.

The minister on Monday said he was making it a notifiable disease. People are encouraged to practice basic food hygiene‚ including using clean water to wash food‚ and boiling water and foodstuffs to improve safety.

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