Listeriosis outbreak claims 36 lives in S

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says the infection doesn't have to be fatal

A food borne disease has killed 36 people in South Africa, with more than 520 more infected.

Motsoaledi reiterates listeriosis is treatable and preventable.

The disease is found in soil, water and contaminated food and is spread through eating contaminated food products such as raw or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses, but also vegetables, processed foods, ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products, said the NICD.

Motsoaledi says newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity are at high risk of getting listeriosis.

This is according to an alert by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), posted on Tuesday.

Gauteng province, South Africa's economic hub, had 62 percent of the reported cases, followed by the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, with 13 percent and KwaZulu-Natal, site of the country's main port, Durban, with 7 percent. "Animal products and fresh produce such as fruit can be contaminated from these sources", he said.

Of the 557 cases, 34% were confirmed at private health facilities, while 66% were detected at public hospitals.

He said infection with listeria may result in conditions including flu-like illness with diarrhoea, including fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness, infection of the bloodstream which is called septicaemia, and meningoencephalitis [infection of the brain].

Motsoaledi says the exact source of the outbreak is under investigation.

Environmental health officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting patients' homes to sample food where available, Motsoaledi said.

To find out more, you can contact the NICD at 011-386-2000.

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