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Widespread Outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa (Update 3)

04 May 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the current outbreak of listeriosis that has affected the country since early 2017 is showing a downward trend after the food source was identified in early March 2018. Between 1 January 2017 through 24 April 2018, 1024 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported from all provinces. The majority of cases have come from three provinces: 601 from Gauteng, 128 from Western Cape and 73 from KwaZulu-Natal provinces, with the remaining cases coming from the other provinces in South Africa. The outcome of illness is known for 700 patients, of whom 200 of them died.

Advice to Travellers

Listeriosis is usually self limiting but can be a serious disease and is especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants, elderly people, transplant patients, people with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions. Anyone in these groups who may be infected should seek medical attention. Symptoms include: fever, muscle and joint pains, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea.

Food should be chosen that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot. Meat and vegetables should be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible. Fruit should be peeled.

Avoid the following:

  • Leftovers and reheated meat
  • Ready-to-eat cooked meats and sausage
  • Pâté or meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized milk and dairy products e.g. soft cheese.
  • Refrigerated uncooked seafood
  • Raw vegetables or salad
  • Contact with infected people eg through food handling
  • Contact with infected animals

See Food and Water Precautions