Listeria monocytogenes cultures are seen in a lab at The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg. The institute is currently dealing with Listeria The institute is dealing with the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa. Picture: ALON SKUY
Listeria monocytogenes cultures are seen in a lab at The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg. The institute is currently dealing with Listeria The institute is dealing with the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa. Picture: ALON SKUY

The death toll from the world’s worst listeria outbreak in SA has risen to more than 200, according to latest official statistics seen on Thursday.

The UN said SA’s listeriosis outbreak is believed to be the worst worldwide.

Since January 2017, at least 204 people are now known to have died from listeria, up from 183 reported two months ago, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported this week.

While the number of cases diagnosed each week has decreased, a total of 1,033 people have contracted listeriosis — a disease caused by bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.

Health officials announced in March that they had traced the outbreak to an Enterprise Food plant in Polokwane and immediately ordered a nationwide recall of the affected products.

In a statement on Thursday, the government said “since identification of the source of the outbreak and recall of implicated products, the number of cases of listeria has declined drastically”.

A number of African countries have imposed a ban on imports of chilled meat from SA.

The infection mainly affects children and has an incubation period of up to 70 days, making it difficult to track.

Contamination in humans can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain, which can be fatal.

AFP

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