Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

Listeriosis death toll rises to 164 as outbreak worsens

The source for the current outbreak is yet to be found.

Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

The number of deaths resulting from the large listeriosis outbreak that has hit South Africa has risen considerably to 164 according to the latest report by the National Insitute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Almost half of these fatalities were infants less than a year old.

As of Wednesday 14 February 2018, the number of laboratory confirmed cases of listeriosis also climbed up to 872.

Gauteng remains the strongest hit province with 517 of the 872 cases reported from the region, followed by the Western Cape with 111, while KwaZulu-Natal has reported 62 cases.

The majority of the 164 deaths, 98 to be exact, have also occurred in Gauteng in what is the worst recorded outbreak in history.

What causes Listeriosis?

The source for this particular outbreak is yet to be found, however the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sent a food safety expert to identify its origin.

Listeriosis results from raw food sources and ready to eat foods like fruit, vegetables and deli meats which have been contaminated by the Listeria bacteria.

Also read: This is how you can kill the threat of Listeriosis in your own home

Who is at risk?

At the highest risk of infection are infants, pregnant women, the elderly and adults with weak immune systems. In these groups, the infection can spread to the central nervous system, causing sepsis and meningitis.

There have also been cases reported in healthy adults although that is a rare occurrence.

Listeriosis symptoms include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea.

How to prevent infection?

You can lessen the risk of contracting the disease by washing raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Meat must be also be thoroughly cooked.

Raw meat must be kept separate from ready to eat foods, and deli meats must be reheated until steaming hot as the bacteria can also survive in extremely cold temperatures.

Also read: Listeriosis death toll up to 107 according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases