Although the number of listeriosis-caused deaths are declining on a weekly basis, the infection still remains a major threat to immuno-compromised people in South Africa.
The National institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) released a report over the weekend, which places the number of listeriosis deaths at 193 nationally. This means that four more deaths have occurred.
According to the report, 1 011 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis have been reported to the NCID since 1 January 2017. Most cases were recorded in Gauteng, with 592 confirmed cases, followed by the Western Cape with 125 cases and KwaZulu-Natal with 72 cases. Public healthcare sectors have identified 64% of the country’s confirmed cases, while the private healthcare sector identified 36%.
Ages in the reported deaths range from birth to 93 years of age, with 41% of deaths occurring in children younger than 28 days old.
“While cases continue to decline, it is expected that some new outbreak-related cases could still be reported, for the following reasons: the incubation period of listeriosis can be up to 70 days; the implicated food products have a long refrigeration shelf life, and it is possible that despite the recall some products were not removed from retail/home settings, and consumption might occur; the possibility of cross-contamination of other types of foods in the retail or home setting may result in additional cases,” the report read.
Tiger Brands has lost R377-million after listeriosis monocytes were found at the company’s Polokwane facility. A total recall of all its processed meat products from retailers across South Africa was implemented. Another massive blow could be dealt to the processed-food manufacturer as a class action suit on behalf of its victims could get the go ahead by the courts. The class action suit reportedly has 110 registered complaints thus far.
A multi-sectoral team consisting of World Health Organization team members, as well as South African national Department of Health officials, are working to find the exact point of origin of the bacteria in South Africa.