'Simple hygiene can minimise risk of contracting listeriosis'

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says 557 confirmed cased of listeriosis have been detected.

Picture: pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town-based doctor says simple hygiene can minimise the risk of contracting listeriosis.

It's a form of food poisoning that's been picked up in several provinces including the Western Cape.

It's a serious bacterial infection found in soil, water, vegetation and animal products.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says 557 confirmed cases of listeriosis have been detected.

At least 36 people have died.

New-borns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity are especially at risk.

But doctor Charl van Loggerenberg says the disease is treatable and preventable.

“It’s a bacteria and thankfully we have antibiotics that we can use to treat the infection, but we do have to catch it reasonably early before the condition deteriorates.”

LISTERIOSIS SOURCE PROBED

Health officials have yet to determine the source of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

Motsoaledi says 345 listeriosis cases have been reported in Gauteng, followed by 71 cases in the Western Cape and 37 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Symptoms are similar to flu with diarrhoea, fever, nausea, body pains and weakness.

The bloodstream and the brain can also be infected.

Motsoaledi says there are generally four possible sources of listeria: food processing plants, retail outlets, farms and food preparation at home.

He says they believe this particular outbreak most likely started at farms or food processing plants.

Motsoaledi adds environmental health officers are following up on diagnosed cases and are visiting the homes of these patients to sample food where available.

Click here to find out more about listeriosis.