The Listeriosis outbreak was exposed in December 2017 and a multi-sectoral outbreak response was instigated by the National Department of Health. The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has made a pronouncement about the findings at a public media briefing on the 4th March 2018 and requested a full recall of all implicated processed meat products.
Listeria is a bacteria genus, which contains six species. It is a disease caused by Listeria spp.bacteria. Listeria monocytogeneis is widely found in the environment especially from the soil, water and vegetation and also faeces of a variety of animals. Up to 5% of healthy humans carry Listeria monocytogeneis in their gut. The primary source of infection in humans is from consumption of contaminated food and human to human transmission can occur from mother to child, either in utero or at birth. Cutaneous infections have been reported very rarely in vets/farmers following direct animal contact with ill animals.
A total of 967 cases have been reported since 2017, 11 additional cases that occurred in 2017 have been identified through laboratory review, and 8 additional cases have been reported to National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The outcome at the end of the hospitalisation is known for an additional 10 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 967 patients. Total number of 183 patients are known to have died to date. Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (572) followed by Western Cape (115) and KwaZulu Natal Provinces (68). Cases have been diagnosed in both public and private health care sectors. Amongst 967 cases, 709 specimens that were positive for listeria monocytogenes on blood culture, while 208 cases were positive on cerebrospinal fluid.
Everyone can get infected with listeria monocytogeneis bacteria, however population that has the highest risk includes: pregnant women, neonates, immune-compromised person such as HIV positive individuals, cancer, renal disease, persons on immunosuppressive treatment, those who received transplant, diabetes, alcoholics, liver disease and persons above 65 years of age.
The National Department of Health found that the Enterprise foods’ biggest processing plant in Limpopo was the source of the present outbreak of listeria. The strain, which was found in large amounts of meat from the plant, matched the strain which had infected patients in Gauteng, where 60% of listeria cases have been found. The plant supplies Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West.
The National Health department advised the nation to stop eating processed products such as Polony, Vienna and Russians. Retail giants such as Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay have issued a recall of all food products found to have traces of killer bacteria listeria.
The Limpopo provincial government has engaged stakeholders such as Department of Health, Capricorn District, Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Chamber of business and the producers to work on the plan to dispose the products. The province visited the Polokwane Food Enterprise on the 5th March 2018 to engage management about the clearing of the products and the recalling strategy.
After successful meetings with all affected stakeholders and the food enterprise, the Polokwane Enterprise workers are now back at work, busy cleaning and disposing the products. The government environment practitioners and other private institutions are conducting further test to ensure that the environment is safe as well as the community.
The government will continue to meet with the food enterprise and stakeholders until the matter is resolved. The provincial government urge the public to return the processed food products to the retail outlets and clean their fridges with mild bleach solution.
Source: Government of South Africa