The Health Department has announced that ready-to-eat processed meats are the source of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
So far 180 people have died, most of them in Gauteng, and now major retailers have started pulling affected products off the shelves.
The department is advising South Africans to avoid polony, viennas, russians and other ready-to-eat meat products for now as they are believed to be the source of the latest listeriosis outbreak.
Processed food manufacturers Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) have been issued with safety recall notices following the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday.
As of March 2, the total number of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases had risen to 948 since January 2018. Of the 948, a total of 659 patients had been traced and 180 of them had died – a 27 percent fatality rate, he told journalists at a media briefing in Johannesburg.
On Friday, January 12, nine children under the age of five presented to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital with febrile gastroenteritis. The paediatrician suspected foodborne disease, including listeriosis, as a possible cause.
The environmental health practitioners (EHPs) were informed and on the same day visited the crèche and obtained samples from two unrelated polony brands (manufactured by Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) respectively) and submitted these to the laboratory for testing.
"Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from stool collected from one of the ill children, and from both of the polony specimens collected from the crèche. These isolates were sent to the NICD Centre for Enteric Diseases and underwent whole genome sequencing and genomic analysis. The ST6 sequence type was confirmed on all three isolates on Saturday 27th January," he said.
People at high risk are newborns, especially in their first 28 days of life, as well as a pregnant woman and their unborn babies. People with compromised immune systems, like those with HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver conditions or kidney disease, are also at particular risk.
Some of the symptoms include flu-like symptoms, including fever, nausea as well as diarrhoea.