News Room

BREAKING NEWS: Listeriosis Death Toll Rises To 61

Author: Melissa Cohen
Date: 2018-01-09
The death toll of the recent Listeriosis outbreak has risen to 61. The Health Department have found a possible infected abattoir. We find out.
On January 8 the Minister of Health,  Aaron Motsoaledi, announced that the Listeriosis death toll has risen to 61 fatalities. This comes after last year's warning of the outbreak, which then caused the deaths of 36 people. According to Motsoaledi, there have been a total of 727 Listeriosis cases since the beginning of last year. This disease is caused by a bacteria found in contaminated water, soil and vegetation. Although Listeriosis is deadly if not treated, it is treatable and preventable.

The Recent Stats

Since the Minister's first announcement on the outbreak in December, the number of cases has increased by 119, with last year's reported cases at 577. Only five of those incidents have been traced. This outbreak is the worst reported, as in previous years, there has only been between 60 to 80 reported cases. Motsoaledi highlighted that Gauteng is still the most hard-hit province in the country, with 442 confirmed laboratory cases. The Western Cape comes in second with 92 reported cases of Listeriosis, and Kwa-Zulu Natal coming in at third with 51 reported cases. According to the Minister, out of the 727 patients diagnosed with the disease, only 134 have been traced.
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New Evidence

During his announcement on Monday, Motsoaledi explained that a possible reason for this particular outbreak is due to traces of the disease in an abattoir in Pretoria. Although this might be the cause of the outbreak, there has been no confirmation that this is the source of the current problem. The woman, who was diagnosed with the disease,was found to have chicken from the Sovereign Foods abattoir.
"The environmental health practitioners visited the abattoir and collected food and environmental samples.  Several of which tested positive for listeria monocytogenes," explained Motsoaledi.
According to the Department, the abattoir was shut down two months before due to unhealthy conditions.

Could I Fall Victim? 

Although anyone could fall victim to this disease, the following people are more at risk:
  • Pregnant women;
  • Young babies;
  • People with a weak immunity;
  • The elderly.
This disease is a form of food poisoning which breeds in the following sources:
  • Directly at origin e.g. farm;
  • Food processing plant;
  • Retail;
  • Food preparation at home.
The World Health Organisation has provided the public with some measures to take in order to prevent Listeriosis. The following measures must be taken: 
  1. Keep clean- wash your hands on a regular basis and when you are handling food;
  2. Separate raw from cooked food- don’t touch cooked food unless you have washed your hands thoroughly;
  3. Cook food properly- never eat food that hasn’t been cooked properly. Rather overcook food than under cook it;
  4. Keep refrigerated- ensure that food is kept at a safe temperature and make sure that if food is meant to be served home, that it is served hot;
  5. Use safe water for domestic used and don’t drink unpasteurized milk products.
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