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Health Department and World Health Organisation Put Measures in Place to Prevent Outbreak of Listeriosis


FEBRUARY 1, 2018. Listeria Monocytogenes Culture, are seen in a lab at The National Institute For Communicable Diseases, in Johannesburg. The institute is currntly dealing with Listeria. "Listeriosis is a serious bacterial infection caused by the rod shaped bacteria listeria monocytogenes. The bacterium is spread when people eat food contaminated with the bacterium. The most common foods to be contaminated are raw or unpasteurised milk as well as soft cheeses, or vegetables, processed foods and ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products.Infection with listeria bacteria results in mild to severe gastroenteritis." PHOTOGRAPH: ALON SKUY

The health department and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have put measures in place to strengthen food safety in a bid to prevent the outbreak of listeriosis.

On Wednesday‚ the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced that the outbreak of listeriosis was over.

“Presently‚ surveillance data in both the public and private sector continues to affirm that the outbreak is over. The number of cases reported per week has remained low and stable‚ having returned to pre-outbreak levels‚” the NICD said in a statement.

According to the NICD‚ the national department of health and the WHO‚ convened a joint WHO-RSA listeriosis incident management team (IMT) to strengthen food safety‚ especially in ready-to-eat meat‚ by:

  • Ongoing surveillance and investigation of human listeriosis cases by the NICD‚ to identify clusters of cases and detect outbreaks early.
  • Inspection of all ready-to-eat processed meat facilities across the country. These inspections have been done together with the district municipalities and metros‚ and are ongoing.
  • Review of molecular sequence data of environmental isolates‚ food and patient isolates to establish if links are present. To date‚ the NICD has not linked human cases to specific foods or environments other than the recent outbreak.

To decrease the risk of listeriosis and other food-borne diseases‚ the NICD advises people to practise food safety measures‚ including washing hands before and after eating‚ and preparing food‚ separating raw and cooked food‚ cooking food thoroughly and keeping food at safe temperatures.

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