Listeria outbreak: No need to panic, says NICD

More than 60 patients have died from the disease since January.

A view of the listeria bacteria. Picture: National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

CAPE TOWN - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says South Africans shouldn't panic over the 647 cases of listeriosis this year.

More than 60 patients have died from the disease since January.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases, says most of the patients were babies under the age of one.

Thomas says people with a weak immune system are most affected by the disease.

This includes patients living with HIV, cancer and diabetes.

She adds that if patients experience any of the symptoms they should immediately seek medical assistance.

“We do expect the number of deaths will go up because usually about 20-30% of people to who get listeriosis will die.”

The Health Department has listed the following symptoms:

• Flu-like illness with diarrhoea including fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness.
• Infection of the bloodstream which is called septicaemia.
• Meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain).

The department 's Foster Mohale says the public should manage hygiene, including washing hands before eating.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)