Gauteng at centre of Listeriosis outbreak

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The World Health Organisation has advised on food safety measures which includes; that people should keep clean especially when handling food, food should be cooked thoroughly; raw food should not be eaten; use safe water, keep food at safe temperatures and use pasteurised milk products.

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

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed a countrywide outbreak of foodborne Listeria.

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

"From these sources, the following foodstuffs can be contaminated and cause the disease: meat and all animal products, fruits and vegetables". Gauteng is the worst hit with 62% of cases, 37% in Western Cape and 7% in KwaZulu Natal. Dr Motsoaledi stated 36 people have died due to the disease.

While anyone could contract the disease‚ those who could most easily contract it are newborns‚ the elderly‚ pregnant women‚ and people with weak immunity‚ such as those with HIV‚ diabetes‚ cancer‚ and chronic liver or kidney disease. "The remaining 18% is distributed in the remaining six provinces‚" Motsoaledi said.

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"There are four possible sources; farms, food processing plants, retail and food preparation at home".

Members of the public can contact the NICD emergency operations centre during working hours (011 386 2000) or the NICD hotline for clinical emergencies after hours (082 883 9920).

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