“THE RATE OF REPORTED CASES ON THIS DISEASE IS ALARMING …” – DR NDLOVU
Written by: Elizabeth Kunene
A recent report from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has shown that listeria has claimed 107 lives in South Africa since its outbreak late last year.
The institute has announced the deaths are 30% of the 852 cases reported to health authorities. The country is experiencing a large outbreak of the deadly disease.
Dr Nonyameko Ndlovu who practises at Ngwelezane Provincial Hospital explains that listeriosis is a foodborne disease associated with a wide variety of foods, including dairy products, meat products, vegetables, fruit, and ready-to-eat products.
“Immunocompromised patients, for example those living with HIV, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and chronic liver disease, the elderly, newborns, unborn babies and pregnant women, have been identified as being at risk. Nevertheless everyone can contract the bacteria,” she says.
Ndlovu says it is important for people to be precautious about where they purchase their meat, fruits, and vegetables.
“If you go to a place that looks unhygienic, it’s best you don’t buy the products. Rather find a reputable place to buy. The rate of reported cases on this disease is alarming and it’s growing,” she says.
Following the outbreak, municipal environmental health practitioners around the country embarked on regular check-ups and sampling of diverse food productions, processing, and packaging facilities.
According to NICD, Gauteng has recorded highest number of cases as 59% from those reported to the institute are from the province. The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have 13% and 7% cases respectively.
Asked about a cure for the disease, Dr Ndlovu says there is no vaccine at the moment.
“A patient is treated based on where the bacteria has infiltrated. The main objective is prevention, so practising hygiene and proper storage of food items is key”.