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Listeriosis in South Africa

South Africa is dealing with the world's biggest outbreak of Listeriosis. The bacterial disease spread rapidly in South Africa and has killed over 180 people in recent weeks.

Listeriosis is a disease, caused by the deadly Listeria bacteria which grow in foods, mainly in cold meats and raw milk products.

Last week, the outbreak was traced back to one of the biggest meat producing factories in the country. Many shops in South Africa recalled their sausages and meat products due to an announcement of the country’s health minister.

It was found that people got very sick after eating cold meat products such as polony, bacon, or siennas. Cold meat is a standard food in many people’s lunch packs.

The symptoms of Listeriosis are similar to common flu symptoms, if not treated by antibiotics, serious illness can develop and lead to death. The outbreak of the disease could have been easily prevented by having higher food standards and better hygiene.

South Africans a love for eating meats. It is also a sign of good status to be able to buy meat. However many people can only afford to buy cheap processed meats.

"Listeria is a bacterium found in soil and water and can cause food-borne disease when it contaminates food such as meat and dairy products. It thrives in fridges and the bacteria can be killed by cooking.”

South Africa is the largest economy on the African continent, however, still more than half of the population live in poverty. Most affected people who ate the contaminated meat live in poor communities.

Wash your hands and cook your food

Producing, storing and preparing food correctly minimises the risk of contamination. Cooking food at high temperatures, washing hands after going to the toilet as well as before preparing food and before having a meal would limit the risk to almost zero. So keep up the hygiene and keep healthy!

source: IOL, see more tips to protect yourself from the disease here.


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