Date of issue: 28 February 2018, using data at close of business 27 February 2018
Report issued by: Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).
Cautionary note: Data collection and cleaning is ongoing and case numbers will change from day to day
Over 1500 foodstuffs obtained from retail outlets, food processing plants and patient homes have been tested at the NHLS Infection Control Services laboratory. To date over 70 food items have tested positive for L. monocytogenes. These have undergone molecular sequencing at the NICD.
National and Provincial departments of health have conducted communication campaigns aimed at sensitizing the public regarding food safety. The NICD released a communication update on 22 February (http://www.nicd.ac.za/index.php/update-on-listeriois-johannesburg-22-february-2018/) urging persons at high risk of developing listeriosis (including pregnant women, adults aged over 65 years, persons with weakened immune systems such as those living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or persons on medication that weakens the immune system) to avoid foods that have more commonly been linked to outbreaks of listeriosis.
These include processed, ready-to-eat meat products, soft cheeses, and unpasteurised milk and dairy products. Processed, ready-to-eat meat products include viennas, polonies, russians, ham, other ‘cold’ meats, sausages, various corned meats, salami, pepperoni and similar products typically found in the processed meat sections of food retailers and butcheries. Such products must be avoided, or thoroughly cooked in boiling water or heated at high temperatures of 70°C or higher before eating.