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Listeriosis death toll rises to 61

On Saturday 13 January 2018, The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement that the current outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is possibly the largest outbreak of the disease ever, with almost 750 reported cases.

The second largest outbreak of the disease was in 2011 when 147 cases were reported in America. The WHO urged all South Africans to adhere to their guidelines to obtain food fit for human consumption. These guidelines includes regular washing of hands, to store raw meat, fish, and poultry separate from other foods and to ensure that food is cooked properly.

According to the statement, the risk of contracting listeriosis is increased by at least 20% in people living with HIV, pregnant women, and the elderly. The mortality rate of listeriosis is estimated at between 20 and 30%.

The death toll from the current outbreak of listeriosis has risen to 61 since the outbreak was announced in December 2017. A total of 727 cases of listeriosis have been confirmed in South Africa, with 442 of these cases in Gauteng. The Western Cape is second with a total of 92 confirmed cases.

Listeriosis is a bacterium found in soil, water and vegetation, which contaminates food sources, such as animal products and fresh produce. The disease can cause meningitis or septicemia, both of which can be fatal. People showing symptoms of listeriosis, should seek immediate medical advice. The disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics.

The symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

The Department of Health recently amended the list of notifiable diseases to now include listeriosis. Prior to this outbreak, it was not on the list


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