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Disease has country in grid lock


   09 February 2018   l   Andries van der Heyde    l   Views: 207   l   2 months ago  

 


South Africans have been constantly reminded since December to check for symptoms and watch what they eat, since the initial outbreak of listeriosis started across the country. 

Unfortunately to date, the precise origin of the outbreak has not been established, according the department of health.

The Post asked Dr Nicola Havemann, local medical practioner at Bela-Bela, who also studied in tropical medicine, what the disease is about. 

What precisely is listeriosis? 
Listeriosis is a potentially serious infection caused by the bacteria called “listeria monocytogenes” that is transmitted to humans by various food products. It is uncommon with previous outbreaks of 15 and seven cases per anum, however from January 2017 to date South Africa has experienced a record number of 720 reported cases. 

Who can get listeriosis and what are the symptoms?
Anyone can get listeriosis, however, certain groups are at a higher risk of severe disease. These include the very young (newborns), elderly, pregnant women (who also risk miscarriages and transmitting the disease to their unborn child) and the immunocompromised (those with cancer, HIV, organ replacement, or are on certain medications). Typical symptoms are of gastroenteritis: tiredness, fevers, diarrhoea and vomiting. More severe symptoms include severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion and coma. 

How do you diagnose it and is it treatable? 
Listeria is diagnosed through a blood test or lumbar puncture and fortunately is easily treatable in hospital with intravenous antibiotics. Mild cases in strong individuals usually resolves without any treatment. 

Where does it originate from? 
Sources of Listeria are known to include unpasteurised milk products, meat and vegetables. The answer as to where this particular outbreak originates from is as yet unknown, however, one confirmed case has been tracked from a piece of chicken in a man’s fridge to a specific abattoir (which has since been closed down pending further investigation). 

What can we do to prevent contracting Listeriosis?
High risk groups should avoid unpas-teurised dairy products, soft cheeses, deli items (such as ham, unless reheated thoroughly) and refrigerated pate’s. We should all ensure that our meat is cooked thoroughly. Fridge temperatures can be set below 4°C and freezers below -18°C to kill the offending bacteria. Furthermore, washing hands before and after preparing food, ensuring kitchen counters are always clean and washing your fruit and vegetables thoroughly will greatly reduce the risk.

 


 

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