[ALERT] NICD testing listeria strain samples found in JHB food outlet

The City of Johannesburg says environmental health practitioners comfirmed the discovery of strains of listeria at a food outlet on Friday.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The City of Johannesburg says samples of listeria discovered at a food outlet earlier on Friday have been taken to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for confirmatory testing.

However, the city did not divulge the identity of the food outlet.

Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development in the City of Johannesburg, Dr Mpho Phalatse, says they are awaiting lab confirmation of whether or not this is a disease-causing strain of the organism.

"There are 17 strains of the organism, but not all of them are disease-causing. The major human pathogen in the Listeria genus is L. monocytogenes. It is usually the causative agent of the relatively rare bacterial disease Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

Phalatse called on community members not to panic but to remain vigilant and adhere to food safety guidelines.

"We should have results in the next 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, residents should continue adhering to food safety guidelines and report to their nearest clinic if they start experiencing symptoms associated with the disease, especially pregnant women, babies below the age of 28 days, senior citizens above the age of 65 and immunocompromised patients."

Environmental health inspectors have also issued instructions that premises identified as high risk be sanitised while tests are ongoing.

As at 16 January 2018, a total of 764 listeriosis cases have been reported across the country, with the City of Joburg reporting 212 cases, with 19 deaths so far.

The city says that in support of executive mayor Herman Mashaba’s campaign to clamp down on lawlessness in the City of Johannesburg, its Environmental Health Unit is also intensifying its oversight role in ensuring that all food handlers strictly adhere to prescribed standards in their field of operation.