Listeria outbreak comes to an end

Alicia Farmer
September 6, 2018

Listeriosis, a serious, but treatable and preventable disease is caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes.

Motsoaledi said the outbreak led to more than 203 deaths in South Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) increased its technical support to South Africa, enabling the country to better contain the outbreak, and to strengthen its existing health systems to prevent future outbreaks from occurring.

WHO, along with global and local food safety experts agree that no new listeriosis cases have been identified since the first week of June 2018.

"The conclusion is that the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is over", the minister told a news conference.

The breakthrough came when, on 12 January, nine children under the age of five from a crèche in Soweto were taken to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and a paediatrician suspected a foodborne disease, possibly listeriosis.

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These samples were sent for analysis and gave the team the breakthrough that they had been working so hard for.

Officials said 5,812 tons of affected foods have been recalled and destroyed since March. The country's 157 facilities that produce ready to eat foods have been inspected and have all tested negative - but there is still uncertainty around Enterprise plants in Polokwane and Germiston East of Johannesburg.

The months-long listeriosis outbreak that has killed about 200 people in South Africa is over, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Monday.

Minister Motsoaledi says that efforts to find the cause of the listeriosis outbreak at an Enterprise Foods facility and to stop the outbreak of any other diseases will continue even after Monday's announcements.

Listeriosis cases have been recorded for 40 years in South Africa. This is why health officials have declared the outbreak officially over.

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