On Tuesday the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, told the Limpopo legislature during a briefing on the outbreak, that there is still a chance more people may contract listeriosis.
He said he plans to meet with health MECs across the country, as well as his counterparts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Motsoaledi warned the public not to consume any processed meats, including brands that were not implicated in the recent listeria outbreak. Processed meats are usually packed next to one another in supermarkets, and there is still a danger of cross-contamination.
Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) products have been recalled from supermarket shelves in an effort to contain the spread of the bacterial disease, as these two companies have been identified as the source of the outbreak.
Motsoaledi further added that good hygiene practices are essential in ensuring that one does not contract the disease. “I got worried this week. I saw a document with research showing that 62% of men do not wash their hands after leaving the bathroom, they just step into the bathroom and they walk out with hands in their pockets,” he said.
Thus far, 115 cases of listeriosis have been reported in the Western Cape. A total of 77%, which is 88 of the 115 reported cases, were reported within the Cape metro area. Twenty-nine deaths have been reported in the province thus far.
A human rights lawyer is also launching a class action lawsuit against Tiger Brands, the parent company of Enterprise, for the outbreak and subsequent deaths. Tiger Brands, however, maintains there is no verified evidence that links the listeriosis-caused deaths to Enterprise products.
Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo, said as it stands 115 confirmed cases have been reported in the province since the outbreak last year. A total of 77% (88/115) are from various areas within the Cape Metro, and 29 deaths (25%) have been reported to date.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, Namibia reported its first case of listeriosis.
A 41-year-old Namibian man was diagnosed with the disease on Monday and is currently receiving treatment in a hospital in Windhoek. Namibian Health Minister, Bernard Haufiku, warned the public not to consume any processed meat products from South Africa. Imports from South Africa have also been banned.
Haufiku said their country is on high alert, and that surveillance and monitoring systems are in full force.
The victim is suspected to have contracted the disease from consuming so-called vienna sausages in his hometown of Thumb, in Namibia’s north.