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Listeriosis Outbreak in South Africa

PostedDecember 12, 2017

There has been an outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa. Listeriosis is caused by a bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. It is treatable and can be prevented. The bacteria is found in soil, water and vegetation and as a result fresh produce can become contaminated.

What are the signs and symptoms of Listeriosis?

People may have flu-like symptoms, diarrhoea, vomiting, body aches, headaches and even infection of the bloodstream and the brain (meningitis).

Who is at highest risk of developing listeriosis?

Newborn babies, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with HIV, diabetes or cancer as well as those with liver and kidney disease. However, healthy persons may also develop listeriosis.

How is it spread?

Listeriosis is spread through eating contaminated food.

How is it treated?

Diarrhoea due to Listeriosis may only require symptomatic treatment.

More serious infections however may be life threatening and require intravenous antibiotics. 

What can you do to prevent infection?

Good basic hygiene which includes:

Washing hands before handling raw food and during cooking of food.

Cook food properly

Wash raw food before eating it

Hot food should be served hot (not lukewarm)

Cold food should be refrigerated

And avoid:

Raw or unpasteurised dairy products

Soft cheeses (e.g. brie, feta)

Food from delis that hasn’t been heated (salad bars)

Refrigerated pâtés


National Department of Health Communique on outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa, 5 December 2017

National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Outbreak Response Unit, Listeriosis FAQ, December 2016

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.