Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announces outbreak of food borne disease in South Africa

Electron micrograph of listeria monocytogenes bacterium in tissue

Symtoms from the food-borne disease include diarrhoea, fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness.

Listeriosis is a serious but rare infection, mainly caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes which is found in soil, water and vegetation. "The source of this outbreak is now being investigated and all stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases", the minister said. "Environmental health officers are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting their homes to sample food where available", said Motsoaledi.

"As of the 29th of November 2017, tracing back from the 1st of January, a total of 557 laboratory confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported from all provinces.

Listeriosis is a disease that occurs every year and is seen in our hospitals, typically 60-80 cases are detected and treated annually", said the minister.

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In a tweeted factsheet, the health ministry urged South Africans to use safe water supplies, ensure frequent hand-washing and separate raw and cooked food. It was probably spread by "a food product that is widely distributed and consumed by people across all socio-economic groups", Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

Motsoaledi further explained that they concluded that the disease was an outbreak when it reached 500 cases. The health department said on Tuesday that Gauteng was hardest hit by the latest outbreak.

"This has to be the biggest outbreak ever", said Thomas.

People usually contract it through animal products and fresh fruits and vegetables.

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