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Deadly listeria outbreak is food-borne: Motsoaledi

Deadly listeria outbreak is food-borne: Motsoaledi

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.

By the end of last month, 557 cases had been confirmed, compared with about 80 cases annually in past years, the department said.

Listeriosis is marked by flu-like symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever, general body pains, vomiting, weakness, septicaemia and meningoencephalitis.

"The bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation", he told a media briefing in Pretoria.

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. Dr Motsoaledi stated 36 people have died due to the disease.

Gauteng at centre of Listeriosis outbreak

The course of the contamination is being investigated but authorities believe it is most likely farms and agriculture or food processing plants.

The minister further urged the public to keep food at safe temperatures, to wash hands before handling food and often during food preparation and to use safe water for domestic use at all times and use pasteurised milk products.

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.

Out of the 557 cases reported, 345 cases were reported in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape which reported 71 cases, and 37 cases of Listeriosis reported in KwaZulu-Natal.

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