In a follow-up on the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, since the beginning of the year through Dec. 21, a total of 658 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Listeria bacteria
Listeria monocytogenes/CDC

In addition, the number of fatalities has risen to 61.

Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (62%, 408/658) followed by Western Cape (13%, 84/658) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 45/658) provinces.

The NICD added that South Africans should not panic and reiterated that everyone should adhere to safe food practices to include cooking food thoroughly, only use pasteurized milk products and keeping food at safe temperatures

“These are food hygiene practices that assist in the prevention of foodborne illness generally, not just Listeria.”

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

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Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

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