In a follow-up on the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) puts the number of laboratory-confirmed cases at 602 nationally as of Dec. 13, including 40 deaths.

South Africa/CIA
South Africa/CIA

Six out of 10 cases have been reported from Gauteng Province while Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal accounted for an additional 20 percent of cases.

The Minister of Health convened a multisectoral meeting on 14 December 2017 with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (DAFF), NDoH and NICD at which NICD presented data contained in this Situation Report. A multisectoral outbreak response plan is being compiled.

Over 15 in-depth food histories have been taken from case-patients in Gauteng Province. A number of foodstuffs have been identified that are common to all affected persons.

Environmental health practitioners have been requested to visit homes of persons newly diagnosed with listeriosis and sample available food where possible.

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.

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.